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Medal of Honor recipient Ola Lee Mize dies at 82

Mar. 13, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Sgt. Maj. Ola Lee Mize
Sgt. Maj. Ola Lee Mize (Hall of Valor)
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Military Times Hall of Valor

Read Mize’s Medal of Honor citation

Medal of Honor recipient, Korean War hero and Special Forces legend retired Army Col. Ola Lee Mize has died at 82, according to the Medal of Honor Society. He died Wednesday after a lengthy illness.

“This man was an absolute true patriot,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. Victor Hugo, who served under Mize in Vietnam with Special Forces. “He just loved the United States; he loved the Army; he was great to people who worked for him. He understood loyalty runs two ways and he just practiced that totally. He was an outstanding combat commander. He’s just a remarkable, magnificent person.”

Mize was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on June 10 and 11, 1953, near Surang-ni, Korea, when the enemy launched a heavy attack against “Outpost Harry,” according to his award citation. He received the award in 1954, when he was a master sergeant.

Mize, then a sergeant with Company K, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, moved through an intense barrage of enemy fire to rescue a wounded soldier, the citation says. He then fended off enemy assaults, inflicting heavy casualties.

“During his fearless actions he was blown down by artillery and grenade blasts three times but each time he dauntlessly returned to his position, tenaciously fighting and successfully repelling hostile attacks,” the citation says. “When enemy onslaughts ceased he took his few men and moved from bunker to bunker, firing through apertures and throwing grenades at the foe, neutralizing their positions. When an enemy soldier stepped out behind a comrade, prepared to fire, Master Sergeant Mize killed him, saving the life of his fellow soldier.”

After rejoining his platoon, Mize killed 10 enemy troops to retake a machine gun position; he protected wounded friendly troops and he called in artillery strikes, the citation says. At dawn, he helped launch a counterattack that repulsed enemy forces.

After the Korean War, Mize became an officer and joined Special Forces. Rudi Gresham, who served with Mize in Vietnam, called him “a rock star” in the Special Forces community who was extremely proud to be a Green Beret.

Once Mize tried to get business cards made but the card company told him they were having a hard time fitting the fact that he was a Medal of Honor recipient on the card, Gresham said.

“Lee just told me, ‘Well leave the Medal of Honor thing off, that’s all right, but leave on Special Forces, because we put on the beret,” Gresham said.

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