Ola “Lee” Mize received the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award for valor, for his heroism in the battle in which he defended a strategically important hill and saved the lives of numerous comrades — and in which his superiors thought he had lost his own. He later served three tours of duty in Vietnam and retired as a colonel.Mize's death brings the number of surviving Medal of Honor recipients to 74, nine of whom were awarded the medal for heroism in Korea.
He died March 5 at his home in Gadsden, Ala. He was 82. The cause was cancer, said Rick Vaughan, a family spokesman.
The son of an Alabama sharecropper, Col. Mize left high school and joined the Army to support his family. He was nearing the end of his enlistment when the Korean War began, according to several accounts, and he reupped so that he would not miss the opportunity to serve in combat.
Ola Lee Mize was born Aug. 28, 1931, in Albertville, Ala. He was a butcher before joining the Army and was initially turned down by military recruiters because he weighed only 120 pounds.
After his tour in Korea, Col. Mize served in the Army Special Forces, or Green Berets, including as a camp commander in Vietnam. He helped train local populations to oppose the Viet Cong, according to a biographical sketch in the book “America’s Heroes,”and later was director of the Special Forces School at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Col. Mize retired in 1981 but remained involved in military affairs for several decades as a motivational speaker, trainer and consultant, his family’s spokesman said.
Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Betty Jackson Mize of Gadsden; their daughter, Teresa Peterson of Rainbow City, Ala.; a half-brother; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. His daughter Donna Feazell died in 2001.
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OLA LEE MIZE
Sergeant, US Army; Company K, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division
Born: 28 August 1931, Marshall County, Alabama
Died: 12 March 2014, Gadsden, Alabama
Citation: 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 [near Surang-ni, Korea], when the enemy launched a heavy attack [during the night of 10-11 June 1953]. 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.