Tag Archives: Vietnam War

Hero Milton Olive III

Hero Milton Olive III

November 7, 1946 – October 22, 1965

Milton L. Olive III and fellow members of the 3rd Platoon of Company B had been making their way through the jungles to locate Viet Cong operating in the area. As the soldiers pursued the enemy, a grenade was thrown into the middle of them. Olive grabbed the grenade and fell on it, absorbing the blast with his body.

Hero Milton Olive III

18 years old

His actions saved the lives of his platoon members. President Johnson presented the Medal of Honor to Olive’s parents on his behalf on April 21, 1966.

Milton L. Olive III was the first African-American Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War. There would be an additional twenty-one African-Americans recipients. (There were 259 total.)

Hero Milton Olive III
President Lyndon Johnson presents Medal of Honor, posthumously, to parents of
PFC Milton L. Olive, III for his act of gallantry in Vietnam.”
Source: Department of Defense
Hero Milton Olive III


The citation read: 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.”

Hero Milton Olive III

LBJ’s words

Below is a link to a sound file with President Lyndon B Johnson’s remarks at the ceremony. He began those remarks with the following words:

Mr. and Mrs. Olive, members of the Olive family, distinguished Mayor Daley, Secretary Resor, General Wheeler, Members of the Senate, Members of the House, ladies and gentlemen.

There are occasions on which we take great pride, but little pleasure. This is one such occasion. Words can never enlarge upon acts of heroism and duty, but this Nation will never forget Milton Lee Olive III.

President Harry Truman once said that he would far rather have won the Medal of Honor than to have been the President of the United States. I know what he meant. Those who have earned this decoration are very few in number. But true courage is very rare. This honor we reserve for the most courageous of all of our sons.

The Medal of Honor is awarded for acts of heroism above and beyond the call of duty. It is bestowed for courage demonstrated not in blindly overlooking danger, but in meeting it with eyes clearly open.

And that is what Private Olive did. When the enemy’s grenade landed on that jungle trail, it was not merely duty which drove this young man to throw himself upon it, sacrificing his own life that his comrades might continue to live. He was compelled by something that’s more than duty, by something greater than a blind reaction to forces that are beyond his control.

Hero Milton Olive III

Milton L Olive III

The video of the narration/music at top of this entry

Hero Milton Olive III

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

Speech from Moratorium Day Rally at UCLA

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

National Moratorium

Autumn 1969. The Vietnam War continued. Protests continued. David Hawk and Sam Brown, two antiwar activists, forged a broad-based movement against the Vietnam War called the National Moratorium.

The organization initially focused its effort on 300 college campuses, but the idea soon grew and spread beyond the colleges and universities. Hawk and Brown were assisted by the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, which was instrumental in organizing the nation-wide protest.

15 October 1969 National Moratorium


Many felt that these organizers were unpatriotic. Before the event, Los Angeles Mayor Samuel W. Yorty described them as “loud, marching, foolish and subversive dissenters.”

President Nixon urged Americans not to “buckle under” or “run away” from a “fair peace.” Senate minority leader Hugh Scott (R-PA)  scolded protesters they encouraged the US to “cut and run” and capitulate to the enemy.

Keep in mind that in 1969 TV for most people meant only nine letters: ABC, CBS, and NBC. If you didn’t see something there it wasn’t important. None of those networks planned on live coverage of the October 15 National Moratorium.

15 October 1969 National Moratorium


Ben Kubasik, executive director of the National Citizens Committee for Broadcasting, said of the networks’ decision: What passes for the commercial networks’ news judgement astounds me. If a famous man had died, a manned moon space shot were launched, or President Nixon chose to go on the air to say he would be unmoved by the moratorium, those would have been carried alive. The Vietnam Moratorium is the greatest peaceful outpouring in our history and the networks choose to ignore it as it is happening by running regular programming.”

In New York City, as in many large urban areas, local electronic media did cover the event. For example alternate rock station WNEW-FM suspended all advertising for the entire day. WOR-TV devoted more than seven hours to coverage. WBAI-FM covered the event in its entirety.

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

Vietnam time zone

Vietnam is 11 hours ahead of Eastern time and so when a group of 20 young Americans assembled in front of the American Embassy at 10 AM on October 15, 1969, the National Moratorium began.

In New York City, the New York Times  headline was that “Tommie Agee’s Bat and Glove Lead Mets to Second World Series Victory.” Baseball fans across the country would be able to see game four that night and watch the Amazin’ Mets take a 3 – 1 lead on its way to an improbable World Championship.

Other smaller headlines that morning read “Massive Protest On Vietnam War Expected Today” and “Nixon Challenges Protest Leaders.”

Across the United States over two million people in their own cities and neighborhoods held protests against the War. Some read names of the war dead in town squares, some churches tolled their bells for each of the dead. One of the largest demonstrations occurred when 100,000 people converged on the Boston Common. Walter Cronkite called it “historic in its scope. Never before had so many demonstrated their hope for peace.”

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

and the beat went on

On April 28, 1970, Nixon authorized U.S. combat troops to cross the border from South Vietnam into Cambodia.

On April 30 Nixon announced that invasion and the expansion of the war.

On May 1 protests erupted on campuses across the US.

On May 3 during a press conference, the Republican governor of Ohio, James A. Rhodes, called anti-war protesters “the worst type of people we harbor in America, worse than the brown shirts and the communist element.” Rhodes ordered the National Guard to quell a demonstration at Kent State University.

On May 4, 1970, National Guard troops shot and killed four Kent State students protesting the war.

On May 6 hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation shut down as thousands of students join a nationwide campus protest.

Vice-President Spiro Agnew stated, “We have listened to these elitists laugh at honesty and thrift and hard work and prudence and logic and respect and self –denial. Why then are we surprised to discover we have traitors and thieves and perverts and irrational and illogical people in our midst?

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

Construction retaliation

On May 8 about 200 construction workers in New York City attacked a crowd of Vietnam war protesters. Some workers use pipes wrapped with the American flag. More than 70 people were injured, including four police officers. Peter Brennan, head of the New York building trades, was honored at the Nixon White House two weeks later. He later became Secretary of Labor.

On May 15 in Jackson, Mississippi police confronted a group of student protesters. The police opened fire, killing two students.

On May 20 around 100,000 people demonstrated in NYC’s Wall Street district in support of the war.

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

Richard B Fitzgibbon Jr

Richard B Fitzgibbon Jr

June 21, 1920 — June 8, 1956

Richard B Fitzgibbon Jr

This person’s date of death was easier to determine than the date a war began.

Richard B Fitzgibbon Jr  fought in World War II in the Navy. After the war he joined the Air Force and was eventually promoted to Technical Sargent. He served in Vietnam as part of the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), the advisors to the South Vietnamese army.

Fitzgibbon died on June 8, 1956 after S/Sgt Edward Clarke had shot him. On June 20, 1956, an Associated Press article in the New York Times reported the deaths:

Richard B Fitzgibbon Jr

 When the Vietnam Memorial was in its planning stages, one of the obvious decisions was “Who was the first American killed in Vietnam?” It would seem obvious that Fitzgibbon would at least have been one of the first if not the first.

Chronologically, he was as no other American military person had been killed in Vietnam since the US Government had begun sending MAAG personnel on September 3, 1950.

The first date used for the “beginning” of the war was January 1, 1961 because President Johnson had stated that Spec/4 James T. Davis, who died in a Viet Cong ambush on 22 December 1961, was “The first American to fall in defense of our freedom in Vietnam.”

For years, the Fitzgibbon family argued that Richard should be included. Finally the Department of Defense decided to use the start date November 1, 1955, thus qualifying Fitzgibbon.

Richard B Fitzgibbon Jr

Fitzgibbon’s son, Lance Cpl. Richard B Fitzgibbon III, joined the Marines because he wanted to connect to the place where his father had died.

Fitzgibbon III was killed in combat on Sept. 7, 1965, in Quang Tin, Vietnam, at the age of 21. The Fitzgibbon father-son deaths in Vietnam were one of three pairs: Leo Hester Sr. and his son Leo Hester Jr and Fred C. Jenkins and his son Bert M. Jenkins were the other two.

Richard B Fitzgibbon Jr