U.S Army solider Milton Lee Olive III was a recipient of America’s highest military decoration-the Medal of Honor. He received the honor for his actions in the Vietnam War. At the young age of 18, Olive made the ultimate sacrifice. He gave his life to help save others by smothering a live grenade. He was the first African-American Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War.
Olive was born in Chicago but left as a young boy living in Lexington, Mississippi where he finished high school. He joined the Army in 1964 and by 1965 was serving as a Private First Class in Company B of the 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, and 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam. On October 22, 1965, Olive and his fellow soldiers were moving in Phu Cuong. A thrown-enemy grenade caused Olive to act promptly, he did so by smothering it with his body. For his actions he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
During a ceremony on the steps of the White House, on April 21, 1966, 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. Olive’s body was returned to the United States and buried in West Grove Cemetery at Lexington, Holmes County, Mississippi. In 1979, the city of Chicago recognized Olive by naming Olive Park on Lake Michigan in his honor.