Kenneth L. Olson graduated from college in June 1967 and had planned to complete his graduate studies at Purdue University. He also knew that his draft number was coming up for the Selective Service System.
He decided to volunteer for the draft just to get it out of the way so he could finish his education and get back to the farm without interruptions.
The army assigned him to the infantry. After his training, his battalion sailed for South Vietnam in late March arriving on April 1, 1968. His leadership skills earned him promotions and command of a rifle squad. Olson was a family man who arrange for a corsage to be delivered to his mother on Mother's Day. The corsage at the Olson farm arrived on Saturday, and on Sunday a green army sedan arrived with sad news.
Company A was on a routine mission southwest of Saigon. One of the platoons came under fire. Olson's platoon was sent to reinforce it. After over-running the first trench line, Olson and a buddy, PFC Gary Lindley, moved forward. An enemy machine gun opened fire just 30 feet away, and they quickly dropped to the ground.
While Lindley provided covering fire, Olson popped up and threw a hand grenade but missed the mark. He then pulled the pin on a second grenade and jumped up again to throw it. The enemy was waiting. A burst of machine gun fire ripped through Olson's right arm causing him to drop the grenade.
Within seconds he rolled over on the grenade to smother its blast with his body. The blast killed him instantly. Lindley suffered minor injuries. The rest of Olson's platoon swarmed forward and wiped out the machine nest and its crew.
On April 7, 1970, Olson's parents accepted their son's posthumous Medal of Honor. What greater love can a man have that he give his life for his fellow man?
Please continue to keep our armed forces personnel and their families in your prayers.
Charles R. Pearson, Chaplain, Malvern Legion Post #375