For All Points-Of-The-View.
His blood spilled in Vietnam continues to heal today
~ By Chinta Strausberg ~ On this Veterans Day, I salute all men and women who have and are serving in the U.S. armed services—people who literally gave their lives to protect this nation including and especially my cousin, Milton Lee Olive, III, an18-year-old Englewood Vietnam War hero who paid the ultimate price.
The irony of his brief life is that he went to Lexington, Mississippi to stay with his paternal grandfather and while there joined a civil rights voter registration group dedicated to registering African Americans.
Because it was ten-years after the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Money, Mississippii, ten-years earlier, his father, Milton B. Olive, II, gave him three choices: go back to school, get a job or join the military. It was on a Friday, October 22, 1965, when young Olive, nicknamed "Skipper," who was raised by my grandmother, Zelphia Wareagle and Jacob Augustus Spencer, spotted a live grenade during a search and destroy mission in Vietnam.
Skipper, who had already received a Purple Heart as a result of a heroic parachute action, came home and told his father he was going back to the Army and finish his job.
On October 22, 1965, Skipper did just that when he spotted a live grenade, placed it on his stomach and allowed it to explode. This time, his heroic act saved the lives of retired Jimmy B. Stanford, Sgt. Vince Yrineo, John Foster and Lionell Hubbard. Of the four, only Stanford is alive.
Since 1965 and since being a reporter, I have spoken to all of the survivors and all said they were grateful that this teenage Englewood hero willingly gave his life to save them. Because of Skipper, all have grand children and great-grandchildren.
But while their generations continue to multiply throughout the years, one of their lives is especially precious to me and that is of Capt. Stanford because it was he who used to be a racist having grown up in Texas.
Since then, Stanford has grown, matured since October 22, 1965 and today is a living example to his grandchildren of how important it is to love all mankind. When I received a message from one of his granddaughters, I almost cried for it was at that moment I truly knew that the blood my cousin spilled on that fatal day was not in vain and that through his survivors his spirit will never die.
There will be wreath-laying ceremonies today and visits to gravesites by politicians and family members, but my uncle Milton asked me as a deathbed wish to remind the nation of what his only child did. Uncle died in March of 1993 of cancer, but I always thought he grieved himself to death. He and his son were like ahand in a glove…inseparable; that is until God stepped in and took Skipper back home.
So, happy Veterans Day not just to Skipper’s memory but to all those men and women who are serving and who have served our nation and may elected officials begin to seriously address the social, economic and psychological needs our veterans have upon their return. We owe them that much; after all, they gave so much tous especially those like our Skipper who paid the ultimate price.