Lieutenant Colonel Nelson M. Olf established this endowed ROTC scholarship fund to assist young men and women who are enrolled in the Marine option ROTC program at Oregon State University.
Nelson was born in San Diego, California on November 20, 1935. He attended Point Loma High School, where he was student body president and an all-league football player. He received a Naval ROTC scholarship to Oregon State College and graduated in 1957 with a degree in mechanical engineering and a commission in the Marine Corps as a second lieutenant. While at Oregon State, he was active in his fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa, serving as house manager. He was also parliamentarian in the Student Senate. After basic school, Nelson reported to the 3rd Pioneer Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, where he served as a platoon commander and company executive officer. He then went to the 1st Pioneer Battalion at Camp Pendleton and served as the engineer equipment officer. Following that assignment, he headed to Marine Barracks, Yokosuka, Japan and served as the assistant provost marshal and Marine guard commander. While in Yokosuka, he was the line coach for the Yokosuka Seahawks football team and in 1962 he led the Marine Barracks on a one day, 50-mile forced march and set the Marine Corps record of 13 hours and 30 minutes.
In 1963 Nelson was assigned to the 8th Engineer Battalion as company commander of A Company, which he took to Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, for six months. He then went to the 2nd Force Service Regiment (FSR), where he was the Assistant S-3 and Ordinance Maintenance Company Commander. In 1966, he was deployed to Vietnam as ordinance maintenance officer for the Force Logistics Command and the Ammunition Company commander at Da Nang. He extended his tour and became the assistant division engineer for the 3rd Marine Division in Phu Bai. From there, he was then assigned to the 11th Engineer Battalion in Dong Ha as the Engineer Support Company commander and participated in the relief of Khe Sanh.
In 1968, Nelson was assigned to Portland, Ore., as the Inspector Instructor of the Marine Corps Reserve 6th Engineer Battalion. The battalion won the outstanding Marine Corps Reserve Battalion award two of the three years he was assigned there. While in Portland, he obtained a master’s of business administration from Portland State University by taking classes at night. Nelson then went to the 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa, where he was the executive officer of the 3rd Engineer Battalion. His final tour of duty before retirement was as the assistant G-4 at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Calif.
After leaving the Marine Corps, Nelson went to work for Diamond Industries in Hillsboro, Ore. He managed two factories and became director of the company’s seven assembly and distribution operations around the country. While working for Diamond Industries, he taught night classes in operations management and investments at Portland State University, Linfield College, and the Oregon Graduate Institute. In 1995, he became a business professor at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., and retired from that position in 2006.
Nelson has led a happy and successful life and attributes his success almost totally to the lessons he learned and his experiences both at Oregon State College and in the Marine Corps.
“A life not dedicated to service is not a full life,” said Nelson. He has certainly led a full life, and he wants to encourage others along the same path he trod—hopefully to enjoy a life as interesting and rewarding as his has been.