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Thomas E Atkins

Thomas E Atkins

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Thomas was born on the 5th of February, 1921 in Campobello, South Carolina and he enlisted in the US Army at the age of 21. It was his actions while deployed in the Pacific that would earn him the Medal of Honor. The citation reads:

He fought gallantly on the Villa Verde Trail, Luzon, Philippine Islands. With 2 companions he occupied a position on a ridge outside the perimeter defense established by the 1st Platoon on a high hill. At about 3 a.m., 2 companies of Japanese attacked with rifle and machinegun fire, grenades, TNT charges, and land mines, severely wounding Pfc. Atkins and killing his 2 companions. Despite the intense hostile fire and pain from his deep wound, he held his ground and returned heavy fire. After the attack was repulsed, he remained in his precarious position to repel any subsequent assaults instead of returning to the American lines for medical treatment. An enemy machinegun, set up within 20 yards of his foxhole, vainly attempted to drive him off or silence his gun. The Japanese repeatedly made fierce attacks, but for 4 hours, Pfc. Atkins determinedly remained in his fox hole, bearing the brunt of each assault and maintaining steady and accurate fire until each charge was repulsed. At 7 a.m., 13 enemy dead lay in front of his position; he had fired 400 rounds, all he and his 2 dead companions possessed, and had used 3 rifles until each had jammed too badly for further operation. He withdrew during a lull to secure a rifle and more ammunition, and was persuaded to remain for medical treatment. While waiting, he saw a Japanese within the perimeter and, seizing a nearby rifle, killed him. A few minutes later, while lying on a litter, he discovered an enemy group moving up behind the platoon's lines. Despite his severe wound, he sat up, delivered heavy rifle fire against the group and forced them to withdraw. Pfc. Atkins' superb bravery and his fearless determination to hold his post against the main force of repeated enemy attacks, even though painfully wounded, were major factors in enabling his comrades to maintain their lines against a numerically superior enemy force.

Thomas was with 13 others that received the Medal of Honor from President Truman on the 12th of October, 1945 in a ceremony at the White House. Shortly after, he returned home to South Carolina and became a farmer. Thomas Eugene Atkins died on the 15th of September 1999 from congestive heart failure at the age of 78. He was survived by his wife, four sons, one daughter, eight grandchildren eight great grandchildren, and is buried in the Fellowship Baptist Church Cemetery in Holly Springs, South Carolina.

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