By Rebekah Martin
Opelika’s own Medal of Honor recipient Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Bennie Adkins will be honored in a special way Dec. 11 at the Museum of East Alabama.
Adkins, who was awarded the Medal of Honor in September 2014, will be presented with a postage stamp commemorating him and his years of service to his country. The event will begin at 11 a.m., at which time the stamps will be available for purchase.
Adkins was first deployed to Vietnam in 1963. He would go on to serve two more tours there – the second from 1965-1966 and the third five years later in 1971.
Adkins received his Medal of Honor due to actions he took during his second tour. The Medal of Honor is given to those members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty.
In March of this year, Adkins was immortalized with a bronze statue depicting a battle he led during his deployment at Camp A Shau against Viet Cong soldiers. According to Adkins’s biography on army.mil, he was engaged in a 38-hour battle against enemy forces, in which he defended his camp and carried multiple comrades to safety while sustaining 18 separate wounds. The statue, constructed by Craig Campbell of Adkins’s hometown of Waurika, Okla., will be unveiled again at the event and will remain at the museum.
The public is invited to attend the free event.
Editor’s note: Some refer to the Korean War as America’s forgotten war, but at least we welcomed our soldiers back home at its end. We seem to have forgotten the Viet Nam war and, for some of the country, we didn’t give our returning soldiers a very good welcome home as, by its end, it had become a very unpopular war in this country. For a large number of Americans, including many Alabamians, this was a very important time of their lives. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the official deployment of American ground troops in Viet Nam. In March 1965, President Johnson made the decision to send troops with strong support from the U.S. public. By June, the U.S. had 82,000 troops there, with Gen. Westmoreland calling for 175,000 more by the end of the year. By 1969, at the peak of U.S. involvement, more than 500,000 U.S. personnel were involved, with 58,000 American soldiers killed. Public support for the war rapidly disappeared. President Nixon finally pulled the last of our troops in 1973 although the war did not end until 1975. Men and ladies of American Legion Post 152 and Auxilliary, I hope this will make up for not recognizing this on Veterans’ Day.