Earl Olmsted wasted no time joining his fellow Canadians to help fight overseas. In 1939, shortly after the British declared war on Germany, Olmstead joined the Canadian Army.
Prior to the war, Olmstead worked as an accounting clerk. Moving into the military his mathematical skills made him ideal for a position with artillery. After his training, Olmstead was sent overseas to serve with an anti-aircraft unit to help defend Britain from aerial attacks during the Blitz.
After his service in Britain, Olmstead was sent back to Canada to receive further training. From February 1943 to May 1943, he attended the Royal Military College Canadian War Staff Course in Kingston, Ontario. Upon completion of his training, Olmstead returned overseas to prepare for Operation Overlord – the codename for the Battle of Normandy. He landed on Juno Beach on June 6th. He headed a party of war correspondents and senior Canadian military personnel. Olmstead kept records of that day, and later his D-Day accounts would be used in the book ‘The Longest Day’ by Cornelius Ryan, which would even go on to become a movie, starring John Wayne.
Earl Olmsted took great pride in the work he and his fellow Canadians were doing. So much so that even after the war ended, he chose to stay with the army and build a career. That decision would see him promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and, in the late 1950’s, became a Senior Operations Officer with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Impressively, before the end of his career Earl Olmstead became the National Secretary of the Canadian Army Benevolent Fund as well as a Knight of the Order of Saint Lazarus in Canada. Olmsted passed away on November 10, 2008, the evening before Remembrance Day, at the age of 94.