Bennie G Adkins
Bennie was born on the 1st of February, 1934 in Waurika, Oklahoma, and at the age of 22, he was drafted into the US Army, which he viewed as a way out of his home town where work was scarce. He was first assigned to a garrison unit in Germany as a typist but became bored after almost two years. He asked to be sent to infantry school and was then assigned to 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia. He then attended and completed Airborne school and volunteered for Special Forces in 1961, which he would go on to be with for over thirteen years. Bennie deployed to the Republic of Vietnam three times between 1963 and 1971 and his actions during his second tour in 1966 earned him the Medal of Honor. The citation reads:
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.
After his third tour in Vietnam, Bennie was assigned to Fort Huachuca in Arizona and went on to graduate third in his class at the Sergeant Major Academy. He retired shortly after in 1978 but not before transferring to Fort Sherman to lead their Jungle Operations Training Center. Bennie went on to earn a bachelor's and two master's degrees from Troy State University and ran his own accounting company while teaching classes at Southern Union Junior College and Auburn University.
Bennie's actions originally earned him the Distinguished Service Cross but thirty-six years after his actions, the Army proceeded to review all 6,500 DSC recipients to see if any should have received the Medal of Honor. Bennie, along with about two dozen others were chosen but before they could receive it, the Senate Armed Service Committee removed the time limit restriction. Bennie received his Medal of Honor from President Obama in a ceremony at the White House on the 15thof September, 2014, along with posthumous awards to Donald Sloat (Vietnam War) and Alonzo Cushing (Civil War). The following day, Bennie was inducted into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes and Troy University awarded Bennie an honorary doctorate of law on the 12th of May, 2017. At the time of this writing, Bennie G Adkins is 85 years old and heads the Bennie G Adkins Foundation, which raises money for scholarships for enlisted Special Forces members that are transitioning out of the military. In 2018, Bennie wrote a book, “A Tiger Among Us: A Story of Valor in Vietnam's A Shau Valley” and the proceeds of the book went to his foundation. When asked if he ever returned to Vietnam in an interview with Military.com, Bennie said, “I don't know if there's anything to it or not, but I heard they [the North Vietnamese] had a poster -- so much for me dead or alive -- and that warrant may still be good. So, no, I haven't been back”.