By Fred Woods
On Sept. 15, President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to retired Command Sergeant Major Bennie D. Adkins of Opelika. Adkins will receive the Medal for his actions while serving as an Intelligence Sergeant assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces. Adkins distinguished himself near Camp A Shau, Republic of Vietnam, during the period March 9-12, 1966.
The award is long overdue (as has been noted by the “Observer” in several previous articles). Thanks are due Congressman Mike Rogers and others in Congress for shepherding legislation through the Congress last year to correct this oversight.
Rogers, upon learning of the White House decision, said, “(Adkins’) acts of heroism during his tour of duty earned him our nation’s highest honor, which he has long deserved. I congratulate Mr. Adkins on this honor and thank him for his bravery, sacrifice and service to our nation.”
Mayor Gary Fuller stated, “I was delighted to hear … that a very deserving veteran of the Vietnam War, who is also one of Opelika’s most selfless and humble citizens, will be awarded the Medal of Honor. CSM (retired) Bennie G. Adkins is not only a man of great distinction, class and honor, he was one of this country’s finest soldiers.
“Bennie Adkins is a hero, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this recognition.”
At the White House ceremony, to be followed by one at the Pentagon, Adkins will be accompanied by Mary, his wife of 59 years, his children and several close friends.
Adkins actually served three tours of duty in Vietnam, with the acts of heroism for which he is being recognized occurring during the second tour. After retiring from the army in 1978, Adkins established an accounting firm in Auburn. He also taught for a number of years at Southern Union Community College and at Auburn University.
Adkins, many will agree, is an American hero. His community thanks him, and now his country has officially thanked him.