Cody Olafson is Remembered As An Honored Professional
June 17, 2023
by Jeff Olsen
Cody Alan Olafson, who died on May 20, 2022, while in training and nearing graduation at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick, Georgia, was honored in the nation's Capital in mid-May.
The Roseau High graduate, only 26 and a giant of a man, stood six-foot-seven and weighed approximately 315 pounds.
His stepdad, Robbi Peterson, had nicknamed him the Big O and the Teddy Bear.
He certainly was that.
His mother, Ann, called him the Code Man.
Maybe a lesser individual would have gone on sick call when beginning to suffer what would eventually be a life-ending heat stroke one year ago.
But there was no quit in the gentle giant, who wanted to graduate with his classmates.
His badge number was A-17, and he had worked as a trainee for several months at the Pembina Port of Entry before advancing to the equivalent of a Marine Corps boot camp.
He made an impression while training to become a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer.
He was only eight days from graduation, and they pinned on his CBP badge at the funeral home in Georgia.
On Friday, May 12, Ann Olafson and relatives flew out to Washington, D.C. for special ceremonies during National Police Week.
On Saturday, May 13, they gathered at the Law Enforcement Memorial.
"Cody's name is in three places in the nation's Capital," said his mother, Ann Peterson.
"He was also honored at the ATC, the Advanced Training Center in Virginia, which Cody would have attended had he required further tactical training."
His memory is honored with a plaque there.
Cody also has a plaque at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection building in Washington, D.C.
These are remarkable honors for a young man who died in training.
"It was very well done. We attended three memorials, and one was on the Capitol lawn," said his aunt, Sharlene Peterson.
Another ceremony was at the Washington Monument.
"That was a candlelight vigil. It was all part of National Police Week," said Sharlene.
Cody was bigger than life.
"On May 20, it was the first anniversary of his death on May 20, 2022," said his mother.
It meant a great deal to Ann and the accompanying relatives to Washington, D.C.
"It was so nice and respectfully done," said Ann.
Recently, a new memorial wall was erected in Grand Forks, where her son is honored.
"It was just in time for Police Week," said Ann, explaining that there are more names to be added and Cody is on the wall.
The gentle giant would be proud.
"I want to thank the Pembina Port CBP for how wonderfully they treated us. Chaplains Dan Stumberg and John Nyegaard were outstanding, They picked us up and escorted us everywhere in D.C. They were totally respectful and supportive, and they are amazing," said Ann.
Sharlene Peterson added that the chaplains were very professional and caring.
The group arrived in D.C. on Friday, May 12.
"There were 6,000 people for the Candlelight Vigil," said Sharlene, adding that they attended the Candlelight Vigil at the National Mall on Saturday evening, May 13.
"Two of his classmates, one from California and one from Hawaii, were there to honor him. They're both CBP officers now," said Sharlene. "They stayed with us at the hotel and went with us the whole time."
They had contacted Ann, asking if they could come and support the family.
Ann remarked, "Yes, definitely we want you there, and they made it happen."
The family and friends included Debbie Meier, Ethan Johnson, Tessani Peterson, Sara Magnusson, Maxwell Robinson, and Robbi Peterson.
She lost a fine son, her only son.
"His passion was to become a CBP officer and to make our country safe, whether it's keeping out all the drugs. He was very adamant about that, and he wanted to keep our borders safe."
The biggest guy in the family was like a teddy bear.
"Family was number one for him. Every time he went somewhere, it was about spending time with family. He made sure he stopped at everybody's house - if it was at Grandma Marge's or his dad's, he made his rounds all the time no matter now busy he was."
Cody had a special understanding of life's uncertainties.
"He said, 'Mom, there's nothing more important than family because you don't know how short life can be.'"
He was a mountain of a man, so he didn't eat like a jockey.
"Oh, boy, the kid could drink gallons of milk. He loved venison, loved just about anything. He wasn't a picky eater. He enjoyed everything, and he liked home-cooked meals."
Whenever he went to stay with friends or relatives, Ann would remind him to pick up a couple gallons of milk.
"Oh, I don't drink that much," he told Ann, who remarked, "Yes, you do."
When he was delivered by C-section, Ann's mom, Marge, walked out of the delivery room and declared to family members, "It's a boy. It's a big boy!"
He weighed 8 pounds and 12 ounces, was always healthy and well-behaved.
And he had a very good appetite.
Later, he started growing out of things.
It happened quickly.
"Especially his feet started getting bigger."
Ann was buying new shoe sizes every six months when he was in high school.
New clothes, too.
By the time he was in college, his shoe size was 21.
There are other memories.
"He touched many lives. He tried everything - even kayaking. No matter what his size was, he never failed."
There he was, out on a lake, and that kayak didn't sink like a torpedoed battleship.
He stayed upright and paddled like an Olympian.
"I never realized how many lives he touched. Many people have said that they never would have thought of doing this or accomplishing that had it not been for Cody."
Recently, at the Pembina Port of Entry, CBP officials and family members planted a tree in his memory.
It will grow to be a very big tree!
Reporter's Note: National Police Week is held every May. In 2023, it was held from May 14 to May 20. The National Law Enforcement Officers held ceremonies, including the 35th Annual Candlelight Vigil, to honor the fallen officers whose names have recently been added to the Memorial.