Thursday, March 8, 2012

An American Hero

Milton Lee Olive III (1946 – 1965) was born in Chicago but also had ties to Mississippi and spent time in Lexington. In 1964, Olive volunteered for service in Vietnam and was a PFC in the 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. On October 22, 1965, while moving through the jungle with four fellow soldiers in Phu Cuong, Olive sacrificed his life by smothering an enemy-thrown grenade with his body. For his actions on that day, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. On April 21, 1966, President Johnson presented Olive's Medal of Honor to his father and stepmother. Attending were two of the four men whose lives were saved by his actions. Milton Olive buried in West Grove Cemetery in Holmes County. He was the first African American Medal of Honor recipient during the Vietnam War. There are several memorials to Olive in the U.S., including a park in Chicago and a historical marker, dedicated in 2007, in Lexington (which I helped write). Gen. Harold Cross, who was the Adjutant General for Mississippi at the time, was the keynote speaker.

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