Medal of Honor





Rank and organization: Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, Company A, 5th Battalion, 12th Infantry, 199th Infantry Brigade (Separate) (Light)


Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 13 May 1968


Entered service at: Minneapolis, Minnesota


Born: 26 May 1945, Willmar, Minnesota




For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Olson distinguished himself at the cost of his life while serving as a team leader with Company A. Sp4c. Olson was participating in a mission to reinforce a reconnaissance platoon which was heavily engaged with a well-entrenched Viet Cong force. When his platoon moved into the area of contact and had overrun the first line of enemy bunkers, Sp4c. Olson and a fellow soldier moved forward of the platoon to investigate another suspected line of bunkers. As the 2 men advanced they were pinned down by intense automatic weapons fire from an enemy position 10 meters to their front. With complete disregard for his safety, Sp4c. Olson exposed himself and hurled a hand grenade into the Viet Cong position. Failing to silence the hostile fire, he again exposed himself to the intense fire in preparation to assault the enemy position. As he prepared to hurl the grenade, he was wounded, causing him to drop the activated device within his own position. Realizing that it would explode immediately, Sp4c. Olson threw himself upon the grenade and pulled it in to his body to take the full force of the explosion. By this unselfish action Sp4c. Olson sacrificed his own life to save the lives of his fellow comrades-in-arms. His extraordinary heroism inspired his fellow soldiers to renew their efforts and totally defeat the enemy force. Sp4c. Olson's profound courage and intrepidity were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.


This picture was scanned from the Memorium Card of his funeral.

The family gave it to me when we met in Washington DC April 6-8, 1970

I was the Army Officer that was the Medal of Honor Escort to the family while they were there for the presentation of the Medal Of Honor by the President.

Thank You,
Barry Grimm

The following message was received on 7 December 1998:

"I was with Ken the day he was killed, we were talking about 5 minutes before he was engaged in the firefight. It was about 5:00 or 6:00 pm. on Monday May 13, 1968. There were three or four of us who went in and brought Ken out the next day. If anyone would like to contact me, my email is"

Mike Cullinan

--- General / Personal ---


Last name: OLSON

First name: KENNETH LEE

Home of Record (official): PAYNESVILLE

State (official): MN

Date of Birth: Saturday, May 26, 1945

Sex: Male

Race: Caucasian

Marital Status: Single


--- Military ---


Branch: Army

Rank: SP4

Serial Number: 16978048

Component: Regular

Pay grade: E4

MOS (Military Occupational Specialty code): 11B20


--- Action ---


Start of Tour: Monday, April 1, 1968

Date of Casualty: Monday, May 13, 1968

Age at time of loss: 22

Casualty type: (A1) Hostile, died

Reason: Multiple fragmentation wounds (Ground casualty)

Country: South VietNam

Province: Long An

The Wall: Panel 59E - Row 028


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