Hughson brothers Brian and Bruce Olson have always enjoyed 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 Vietnam veterans the recognition they believe is deserved through their photo project, Operation Honor and Pride, which combines their passion for classic cars and patriotism.
The Olsons grew up understanding the sacrifices military members have to make for 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.
Years after losing their uncle in 1997 to Parkinson’s disease and their father in 2009 at age 89, Brian and Bruce felt they needed to honor their service to the country and also their mother who died at age 90 in 2016, leaving a hole in the hearts of the two self-proclaimed “mama’s boys.”
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,” said Brian.
Their original effort has grown from honoring their relatives, 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,” reported Bruce. “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. 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.”
The brothers are collecting family photos of Vietnam veterans, travelling to different car shows in Stanislaus and Merced counties this summer to pay them tribute. So far the Olsons have collected and display pictures from the families of three Vietnam veterans. They’ve worked with local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts in their search for more photos.
Bruce and Brian will participate in downtown Turlock’s Fourth of July Parade & Car Show, and hope visitors will stop by to share photos and memories of their own beloved family member 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.”
The Olsons invite locals who wish to include family member veterans’ photos displayed at a car show this summer as part of Operation Hope and Pride to call them at 219-9326 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.