Bennie G. Adkins

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Bennie G. Adkins
Bennie G. Adkins Medal of Honor 140915-A-GH914-111 (cropped).jpg
Adkins during his Medal of Honor ceremony on September 15, 2014.
Born(1934-02-01)February 1, 1934
Waurika, Oklahoma, U.S.
DiedApril 17, 2020(2020-04-17) (aged 86)
Opelika, Alabama, U.S.
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1956–1978
RankCommand Sergeant Major
Unit5th Special Forces Group
Battles/warsVietnam War
AwardsMedal of Honor
Bronze Star Medal (2 with "V" device)
Purple Heart (3)

Bennie Gene Adkins[2] (February 1, 1934 – April 17, 2020) was a United States Army soldier and recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Vietnam War. In March 1966 Adkins distinguished himself during a 38-hour close-combat battle against North Vietnamese Army forces during the Battle of A Shau. At the time of the cited action, Adkins was a sergeant first class serving as an Intelligence Sergeant with Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces.[3]


Adkins was born in Waurika, Oklahoma, and was drafted in 1956. He was assigned to a garrison unit in Germany, with a follow-on assignment to the 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Georgia. After attending Airborne School, he volunteered for Special Forces in 1961, serving with Special Forces for more than 13 years with the 7th, 3rd, 6th and 5th Special Forces Groups (Airborne).[4] During that time he deployed to the Republic of Vietnam three times between 1963 and 1971.[5] In April 1967, Adkins was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions with Detachment A-102 during his second tour in Vietnam.[6][7] After Vietnam, Adkins was assigned to Fort Huachuca.[8] Graduating in the third class of the Sergeant Major Academy, he returned to the Special Forces at Fort Bragg, then went to Fort Sherman and led training at its Jungle Operations Training Center.[8] Adkins finally retired from the Army in 1978.[7]

After the Army, Adkins earned a bachelor's and two master's degrees from Troy State University.[3] He operated his own accounting company, and taught classes at Southern Union Junior College and Auburn University.[3] On May 12, 2017, Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr. awarded Adkins an honorary doctorate of laws.

In March 2020, Adkins was hospitalized with COVID-19. He was admitted to the intensive care unit and put on a ventilator after experiencing respiratory failure.[9] He died from complications of the virus on April 17, 2020, at the age of 86.[10] Adkins was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on December 16, 2020.[11]

Medal of Honor award[edit]

CSM Adkins receiving the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama.

From 2002, the U.S. Army reviewed all 6,500 recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross to see if any recipients had actually performed actions worthy of the Medal of Honor; this led to two dozen medal upgrades in March 2014.[12] In 2013, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, the Senate Armed Service Committee passed a provision removing the time limit for Donald P. Sloat and Adkins.[13] On September 15, 2014, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Adkins as an upgrade of his 1967 Distinguished Service Cross. During that ceremony, the Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously to Sloat and American Civil War army officer Alonzo Cushing.[14] Adkins was also inducted into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.[15]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Cmoh army.jpg

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Sergeant First Class Bennie G. Adkins distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an Intelligence Sergeant with Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces, during combat operations against an armed enemy at Camp A Shau, Republic of Vietnam from March 9 to 12, 1966. When the camp was attacked by a large North Vietnamese and Viet Cong force in the early morning hours, Sergeant First Class Adkins rushed through intense enemy fire and manned a mortar position continually adjusting fire for the camp, despite incurring wounds as the mortar pit received several direct hits from enemy mortars. Upon learning that several soldiers were wounded near the center of camp, he temporarily turned the mortar over to another soldier, ran through exploding mortar rounds and dragged several comrades to safety. As the hostile fire subsided, Sergeant First Class Adkins exposed himself to sporadic sniper fire while carrying his wounded comrades to the camp dispensary. When Sergeant First Class Adkins and his group of defenders came under heavy small arms fire from members of the Civilian Irregular Defense Group that had defected to fight with the North Vietnamese, he maneuvered outside the camp to evacuate a seriously wounded American and draw fire all the while successfully covering the rescue. When a resupply air drop landed outside of the camp perimeter, Sergeant First Class Adkins, again, moved outside of the camp walls to retrieve the much needed supplies. During the early morning hours of March 10, 1966 enemy forces launched their main attack and within two hours, Sergeant First Class Adkins was the only man firing a mortar weapon. When all mortar rounds were expended, Sergeant First Class Adkins began placing effective recoilless rifle fire upon enemy positions. Despite receiving additional wounds from enemy rounds exploding on his position, Sergeant First Class Adkins fought off intense waves of attacking Viet Cong. Sergeant First Class Adkins eliminated numerous insurgents with small arms fire after withdrawing to a communications bunker with several soldiers. Running extremely low on ammunition, he returned to the mortar pit, gathered vital ammunition and ran through intense fire back to the bunker. After being ordered to evacuate the camp, Sergeant First Class Adkins and a small group of soldiers destroyed all signal equipment and classified documents, dug their way out of the rear of the bunker and fought their way out of the camp. While carrying a wounded soldier to the extraction point he learned that the last helicopter had already departed. Sergeant First Class Adkins led the group while evading the enemy until they were rescued by helicopter on March 12, 1966. During the thirty-eight-hour battle and forty-eight hours of escape and evasion, fighting with mortars, machine guns, recoilless rifles, small arms, and hand grenades, it was estimated that Sergeant First Class Adkins killed between one hundred thirty five and one hundred seventy five of the enemy while sustaining eighteen different wounds to his body. Sergeant First Class Adkins' extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces and the United States Army.[3]


Adkins with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph F. Dunford in 2017

Adkins received the following awards:[3]

U.S. military decorations
Bluebird-colored ribbon with five white stars in the form of an "M". Medal of Honor (Upgraded from the Distinguished Service Cross)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Width-44 scarlet ribbon with width-4 ultramarine blue stripe at center, surrounded by width-1 white stripes. Width-1 white stripes are at the edges.
Bronze Star Medal with Valor device and bronze Oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Width-44 purple ribbon with width-4 white stripes on the borders
Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters
Width-44 myrtle green ribbon with width-3 white stripes at the edges and five width-1 stripes down the center; the central white stripes are width-2 apart Army Commendation Medal
Gcl-05.png Army Good Conduct Medal with 5 bronze Good Conduct Loops
U.S. Unit Citation Awards
Army Presidential Unit Citation
Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Meritorious Unit Commendation
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with palm and frame
Civil Action Unit Citation.png Vietnam Civil Actions Medal Unit Citation with palm and frame
U.S. Service (Campaign) Medals and Service and Training Ribbons
Width=44 scarlet ribbon with a central width-4 golden yellow stripe, flanked by pairs of width-1 scarlet, white, Old Glory blue, and white stripes National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Silver star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with one silver and one bronze Campaign star
NCO Professional Development Ribbon
Army Service Ribbon
Vietnam Bravery Medal with one brass star
Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Vietnam Gallantry Cross with one bronze star
Vietnam Campaign Medal with "60-" clasp
Other accoutrements
Combat Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
1 star jump.svg Master Parachutist Badge
with one bronze combat jump star
Einzelbild Special Forces (Special Forces Insignia).svg Special Forces Tab
United States Army Special Forces CSIB.svg United States Army Special Forces
Combat Service Identification Badge
ExpertBadgeRP.jpg Expert Marksmanship Badge with Rifle and Pistol bars
ArmyWepBadge.gif Sharpshooter Marksmanship Badge with Carbine bar
Markesman Weapons Qual Badge.png Marksmanship Badge with Machinegun bar
ViPaBa.jpg Vietnam Master Parachutist Badge
(awarded twice)
SpecialForces Badge.svg United States Army Special Forces
Distinctive Unit Insignia
ArmyOSB.svg 5 Overseas Service Bars
Service stripe.jpg 7 Service stripes

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brandon Moseley (December 18, 2020). "Medal of Honor recipient Bennie Adkins laid to rest at Arlington". Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  2. ^ [1] A Tiger among Us: A Story of Valor in Vietnam's A Shau Valley
  3. ^ a b c d e "Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins". Features. United States Army. Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  4. ^ "Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment" (PDF). U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. United States Army Special Operations Command. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  5. ^ "Opelika resident Bennie G. Adkins to receive Medal of Honor". WSFA. Montgomery, Alabama. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  6. ^ Lamothe, Dan (17 September 2014). "Alwyn Cashe, the Medal of Honor, and how heroism gets undervalued". Washington Post. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
    Keith, Tamara (15 September 2014). "Medals Of Honor Recognize Harrowing Battle And A Dying Act". NPR. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  7. ^ a b Brooks, Drew (27 August 2014). "Vietnam vet with Fort Bragg ties among 3 to receive Medal of Honor". Fayetteville Observer. North Corolina. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Local resident to receive Medal of Honor Sept. 15". MCoE Public Affairs. United States Army. 26 August 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  9. ^ Correll, Diana Stancy (March 27, 2020). "Beloved Medal of Honor recipient Bennie Adkins critically ill and hospitalized with COVID-19". Military Times. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  10. ^ Gearty, Robert (18 April 2020). "Medal of Honor recipient Bennie Adkins loses battle with coronavirus at 86". Foxnews. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  11. ^ Richard Sisk (October 22, 2020). "Medal of Honor Recipient Bennie Adkins to Be Buried at Arlington". Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  12. ^ Mulrine, Anna (15 September 2014). "Vietnam War soldiers receive Medal of Honor: Why so late?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  13. ^ Sisk, Richard (12 December 2013). "Senate Backs MoHs for Two Vietnam Soldiers". Retrieved 1 March 2015.
    "H.R. 3304 (113th): National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014". GovTrack. Civic Impulse, LLC. 26 December 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  14. ^ Hlad, Jennifer (26 August 2014). "Obama to award 3 Medals of Honor, including 1 to Civil War soldier". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  15. ^ J.D. Leipold (16 September 2014). "Vietnam War Soldiers inducted into Pentagon's Hall of Heroes". United States Army. Retrieved 1 March 2015.

External links[edit]