Staff Sgt. Tony B. Olaes
January 22, 2018
Died September 20, 2004 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom
30, of Walhalla, S.C.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.; killed Sept. 20 when his patrol vehicle was ambushed by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in Shkin, Afghanistan.
Family buries S.C. soldier killed in Afghanistan
WESTMINSTER, S.C. — Family, veterans and friends gathered here Wednesday to bury Staff Sgt. Tony B. Olaes, who died last week in the war against al-Qaida in Afghanistan.
The 30-year-old Special Forces combat medic died Sept. 20 when the patrol vehicle he and another soldier rode in was ambushed. Olaes and Staff Sgt. Robert S. Goodwin, 35, of Albany, Ga., died in the mortar attack.
Olaes was born in Salem, Mass., and was raised in Oconee County. He attended Seneca High School and earned his general equivalency diploma after enlisting.
“Oconee County just honored a hero,” Randy Bryson, a career Navy man and commander of Seneca’s American Legion Post 120, told the Daily Journal and Messenger of Seneca after the funeral. “We honored one of our own.”
Olaes joined the South Carolina National Guard in 1992, got out in 1998, and then signed up for Army active duty in 1999.
Olaes was the first combat casualty from Oconee County since the U.S. invaded Panama 15 years ago to seize Manuel Noriega on U.S. drug charges.
At least one other South Carolinian has died in Afghanistan in the past two years. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Hicks of Jefferson died in March 2003 along with five others when their HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter went down in southeastern Afghanistan.
Olaes is survived by his wife, Tammy, and his three children, Maverick, McKenzie and Alec.