Fraternal twins Brian and Bruce Olson have always loved going to car shows, and the pair also share respect and admiration for those who have served in the U.S. military. This summer, the brothers are hoping to give various Vietnam veterans the recognition they believe is deserved through a photo project, Operation Honor and Pride, which combines their passion for classic cars and patriotism.
The Olson twins grew up understanding the sacrifices military members have to make, whether they serve in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard. Both their father and uncle served in the Navy during World War II — their father was a pilot, while their uncle served as a Yeoman, performing clerical and administrative work, although he was present for action during the invasions of Morocco and Sicily.
Upon losing their uncle in 1997 to Parkinson’s disease and their father in 2009 at age 89, some years later Brian and Bruce felt the need to not only honor their family members’ service to the country, but their late mother as well. At age 90, the Olson twins’ mom passed away in 2016, leaving a hole in the two self-proclaimed “mama’s boys’” hearts.
Brian and Bruce would frequently attend car shows with their mom, they said, who also loved the glamour of a pristine, classic car. To pay tribute to their mother, father and uncle, the two began entering their 1990 Oldsmobile into shows, proudly displaying their family’s Naval photos.
“People always tell us that our mom and dad are looking down on us and smiling from heaven,” Brian said.
Now, that original effort has grown into something that honors not just the Olson twins’ family, but Vietnam veterans who likely haven’t received such recognition.
“At these different car shows we would meet people who said they liked what we were doing. We’d start up a conversation with them and ask if they had family who served in the military, and a lot said they had someone who served in Vietnam,” Bruce said. “We decided we needed to be paying tribute to their military service...at a different time, they were considered politically incorrect for what they did, but whether you believe that or not they fought for their country and were disrespected when they came home.”
Now, Bruce and Brian are collecting family photos of Vietnam veterans, travelling to different car shows in Stanislaus and Merced counties this summer to pay them tribute. In addition to their own veterans, their father and uncle, the Olsons have collected pictures from the families of three Vietnam veterans, which they proudly display at each different car show. They’ve worked with local Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, as well as the American Legion, to contact area veterans, they said.
Next, Bruce and Brian will head to downtown Turlock’s 4th of July Parade and Car Show, and they hope visitors will stop by to share photos and memories of their own beloved veterans.
“It’s a humbling experience to know that after four years of doing this, we’re finally being recognized,” Bruce said. “I just knew it was needed. They say in the Bible that you’re put here on this green earth for a reason, and we are part of bringing healing to these great patriots and their families.”
Bruce and Brian ask that any locals who would like their family member’s photo displayed at a car show this summer as part of Operation Hope and Pride contact the pair at 209-219-9326 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.