Opelika Medal of Honor recipient Bennie Adkins passes away Friday afternoon


By Morgan Bryce

Opelika resident and Medal of Honor recipient Ret. Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins, 86, passed away Friday afternoon.

Adkins tested positive for COVID-19 and was listed in critical condition at East Alabama Medical Center on March 26. He had been recuperating the last two and a half weeks but his condition worsened this morning and passed away at approximately 3 p.m.

“We are deeply saddened to notify you that after a courageous battle with COVID-19, Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins departed this life today, with beloved family at his bedside,” family members wrote Friday in a post on The Bennie Adkins Foundation Facebook page.

Born in Waurika, Oklahoma, Adkins was drafted into the U.S. Army on Dec. 5, 1956, completing his basic training at Fort Bliss in Texas.

Ten years later, from March 9 to 12, 1966, Adkins’ heroic actions at Camp A Shau in what was then called the Republic of Vietnam saved the lives of several soldiers and others retreating from advancing Viet Cong forces. His actions at that battle would lead to his Medal of Honor recognition at a ceremony conducted by then-U.S. President Barack Obama on Sept. 15, 2014.

In 2018, Adkins and co-author Katie Jackson published a book about his experiences at Camp A Shau in a book titled “A Tiger Among Us: A Story of Valor in Vietnam’s A Shau Valley.”

Mary, Adkins’ wife of more than 60 years, passed away last February. She was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Together, they had five children, three of whom are still living: Mary Ann Adkins Blake (David) and sons Michael Adkins (Christine) and W. Keith Adkins (Jaime) and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They were preceded in death by their sons Dennis and Wayne.

The Observer will release a full article on Adkins’ life in next week’s edition.


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