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First Name: Milton

Last Name: Olive

Birthplace: Chicago, IL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Chicago, IL
Middle Name: Lee

Date of Birth: 07 November 1946

Date of Death: 22 October 1965

Rank: Private First Class

Years Served: 1964 - 1965
Milton Lee Olive III

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Milton Lee Olive III
Private First Class, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Vietnam War

Private First Class Milton Lee Olive III (7 November 1946 - 22 October 1965) was a U.S. Army soldier who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, America's highest military award for valor, for his actions in the Vietnam War. At the age of 18, Olive sacrificed his life to save others by covering a live grenade. He was the first African-American Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War.

Olive was born on 7 November 1946 in Chicago, IL. He also joined the Army in Chicago. On 22 October 1965, Olive was serving as a Private First Class in Company B of the 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam. While moving through the jungle with four fellow soldiers in Phu Cuong that day, Olive sacrificed his life to save his friends. For his actions on that day, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry, 173d Airborne Brigade.

Place and date: Phu Cuong, Republic of Vietnam, 22 October 1965.

Entered service at: Chicago, IL. Born: 7 November 1946, Chicago, IL.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Olive was a member of the 3d Platoon of Company B, as it moved through the jungle to find the Viet Cong operating in the area. Although the platoon was subjected to a heavy volume of enemy gunfire and pinned down temporarily, it retaliated by assaulting the Viet Cong positions, causing the enemy to flee. As the platoon pursued the insurgents, Pfc. Olive and 4 other soldiers were moving through the jungle together with a grenade was thrown into their midst. Pfc. Olive saw the grenade, and then saved the lives of his fellow soldiers at the sacrifice of his by grabbing the grenade in his hand and falling on it to absorb the blast with his body. Through his bravery, unhesitating actions, and complete disregard for his safety, he prevented additional loss of life or injury to the members of his platoon. Pfc. Olive's extraordinary heroism, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

On 21 April 1966, at a ceremony on the steps of the White House, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Olive's Medal of Honor to his father and stepmother. Also in attendance were two of the four men whose lives were saved by Olive's actions.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The name Milton Lee Olive III is inscribed on Panel 02E - Line 131.


• In 1979, the city of Chicago recognized Olive by naming Olive Park on Lake Michigan in his honor.

Olive-Harvey College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, is named after both Olive and fellow Medal of Honor recipient Carmel B. Harvey.

• The Milton L. Olive Middle School in Wyandanch, Long Island, New York, is also named in his honor.

Death and Burial

Private First Class Milton Lee Olive III was killed in action on 22 October 1965. He is buried at West Grove Methodist Baptist Church Cemetery in Lexington, Holmes County, MS.

Honoree ID: 1043   Created by: MHOH




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