Who was Ola Lee Mize?


Ola Lee Mize (28 August 1931 to 12 March 2014) was a United States Army officer and a recipient of the Medal of Honour for his actions in the Korean War.


Medal of Honour recipient Ola Mize.

Mize was born in Albertville, Alabama, the son of a sharecropper. He left school after 9th grade to help support his family. After several years of working for low pay, he attempted to enlist in the Army, but was rejected for being too light, at 120 pounds (54 kg). He tried repeatedly to enlist and was eventually accepted, joining the Army in 1950 from Gadsden, Alabama.

Assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, Mize planned to finish his term of service and return to school. When the Korean War began, he changed his plans and reenlisted in hopes of seeing combat. He volunteered for a front-line unit and ended up as a sergeant in Company K of the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. On 10 June 1953, his unit was manning Outpost Harry near Surang-ni, Korea, when the post came under heavy enemy attack. Mize organised defensive positions, rescued wounded soldiers, and engaged the enemy until reinforcements arrived about noon the next day. He was subsequently promoted to master sergeant and, on 24 September 1954, awarded the Medal of Honour for his actions at Outpost Harry.

Mize later joined the Special Forces where he gained a commission and served three tours of duty in the Vietnam War. In 1965, he was assigned to the Special Forces Training Group, where he was the Advanced Training Committee chief for SCUBA, HALO, and the SKY HOOK schools. Colonel Mize is credited for being the officer responsible for starting the present day Combat Divers Qualification Course in Key West, Florida. From 1966 to 1967, he was again assigned to Vietnam with the 5th Special Forces Group where he was an Operational A, B, and C Detachment Commander and once more in 1969, where he was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group as the Commander of the 3rd Mobile Strike Force Command (Cambodian Troops). During his tour while commander of B-36 3rd Mobile Strike Force he was awarded the Silver Star for Valour in 1969. Going on to meet president Eisenhower and Kennedy. He retired in 1981 as a colonel.

Mize died of cancer on 12 March 2014 at Gadsden, Alabama, aged 82.

Honours and Awards

  • Combat Infantryman Badge with One Star.
  • Master Parachutist Badge.
  • Scuba Badge.
  • Special Forces Tab.
  • Ranger Tab.
  • Medal of Honour.
  • Silver Star.
  • Legion of Merit with One Oak Leaf Cluster.
  • Bronze Star Medal with Four Oak Leaf Cluster and “V” Device.
  • Purple Heart.
  • Army Commendation Medal with One Oak Leaf Cluster.
  • Air Medal.
  • Army Good Conduct Medal.
  • National Defence Service Medal with Three Service Stars.
  • Korean Service Medal with Two Service Stars.
  • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.
  • Vietnam Service Medal with Three Service Stars.
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal.
  • Vietnam Gallantry Cross.
  • United Nations Korea Medal.
  • Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Medal of Honour Citation

Rank and organization: Master Sergeant (then Sgt.), U.S. Army, Company K, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Surang-ni, Korea, 10 to 11 June 1953.

Entered service at: Gadsden, Ala. Born: 28 August 1931, Marshall County, Ala.

G.O. No.: 70, 24 September 1954.


M/Sgt. Mize, a member of Company K, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. Company K was committed to the defense of “Outpost Harry”, a strategically valuable position, when the enemy launched a heavy attack. Learning that a comrade on a friendly listening post had been wounded he moved through the intense barrage, accompanied by a medical aid man, and rescued the wounded soldier. On returning to the main position he established an effective defense system and inflicted heavy casualties against attacks from determined enemy assault forces which had penetrated into trenches within the outpost area. During his fearless actions he was blown down by artillery and grenade blasts 3 times but each time he dauntlessly returned to his position, tenaciously fighting and successfully repelling hostile attacks. 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, M/Sgt. Mize killed him, saving the life of his fellow soldier. After rejoining the platoon, moving from man to man, distributing ammunition, and shouting words of encouragement he observed a friendly machine gun position overrun. He immediately fought his way to the position, killing 10 of the enemy and dispersing the remainder. Fighting back to the command post, and finding several friendly wounded there, he took a position to protect them. Later, securing a radio, he directed friendly artillery fire upon the attacking enemy’s routes of approach. At dawn he helped regroup for a counterattack which successfully drove the enemy from the outpost. M/Sgt. Mize’s valorous conduct and unflinching courage reflect lasting glory upon himself and uphold the noble traditions of the military service.


A section of Steel Station Road in Gadsden, Alabama is named Col. Ola Lee Mize Medal of Honour Highway in his honour.

On 14 May 2015, the Special Forces Underwater Operations School in Key West, Florida, celebrated its 50th anniversary by naming its headquarters building in his honour.


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