Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition are paying tribute to Milton Lee Olive, III, 10 a.m. Saturday, November 13th, during the weekly broadcast for the sacrifices he made during the Vietnam War when on October 22, 1965, the 18-year-old Chicagoan spotted a live grenade during a search and destroy mission, placed it on his stomach allowing it to explode saving the lives of four comrades.
Already a recipient of a Purple Heart, Olive was the first African American to have received the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.
Olive was born a breech baby to Clara and Milton B. Olive, II, in the Englewood community on November 7, 1946. His mother died shortly after giving birth to their son. He is the cousin to Chinta Strausberg, Rev. Jackson’s media specialist. Her paternal grandparents, Zylphia Wareagle and Jacob Spencer, raised him nicknaming him “Skipper.”
Years later, when young Olive’s father married again, Skipper ran away from home to Lexington, Miss., where his paternal grandparents lived. When his father found out his son was in Mississippi helping to register blacks to vote, he gave him three choices: Get a job, go back to school or join the Army. His father feared the KKK would kill his son. After all, it was ten-years after the murder of Emmett Till.
In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson posthumously bestowed the Medal of Honor to young Olive’s father and stepmother, Antoinette Mainor, on April 21, 1966 on the steps of the White House, and in 1966, Mayor Richard J. Daley dedicated the park to Milton Lee Olive, III. In 1970, Mayor Daley reached out to Bishop Louis Ford, pastor of the Saint Paul Church of God In Christ, and a compromise was made in the naming of Olive/Harvey College after a black and white Vietnam Medal of Honor recipients. It was named Olive/Harvey after Milton Lee Olive, III, and Carmel B. Harvey.
Young Olive’s act of bravery saved the lives of four comrades, Sgt. Vince Yrineo, James Stanford, John “Hop” Foster and Lionel Hubbard. Only Stanford is alive today, but all have great-grandchildren today because of an Englewood teenage war hero who loved his country so much he was willing to sacrifice his life for others.
Rev. Jackson said, “We thank you, Milton Lee Olive, III, for your bravery and the sacrifices you made. For you to have risk your life to save others at such a young age, shows the courage, commitment and love you had for mankind and your country.
Happy heavenly 75th birthday. May you rest in power.”
The public is invited to watch the Rainbow PUSH Coalition broadcast Saturday, November 13, 2021, by visiting the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Youtube Channel and clicking on the Saturday Morning Forum, which opens a link to the live broadcast.