CSM Bennie G Adkins
CSM Bennie G Adkins USA – Vietnam Det A-102, 5th SFG(A) Camp A Shau, RVN Action on: 9-12 March 1966 Presented: 15 Sep 2014 Death April 17, 2020
Bennie Gene Adkins (February 1, 1934 – April 17, 2020) was a United States Army soldier and recipient of the U.S. military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Vietnam War. In March 1966 Adkins distinguished himself during a 38-hour close-combat battle against North Vietnamese Army forces during the Battle of A Shau. At the time of the cited action, Adkins was a sergeant first class serving as an Intelligence Sergeant with Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces.
Adkins was born in Waurika, Oklahoma and was drafted in 1956. He was assigned to a garrison unit in Germany, with a follow-on assignment to the 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Georgia. After attending Airborne School, he volunteered for Special Forces in 1961, serving with Special Forces for more than 13 years with the 7th, 3rd, 6th and 5th Special Forces Groups (Airborne). During that time he deployed to the Republic of Vietnam three times between 1963 and 1971. In April 1967, Adkins was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions with Detachment A-102 during his second tour in Vietnam. After Vietnam, Adkins was assigned to Fort Huachuca. Graduating in the third class of the Sergeant Major Academy, he returned to the Special Forces at Fort Bragg, then went to Fort Sherman and led training at its Jungle Operations Training Center. Adkins finally retired from the Army in 1978.
After the Army, Adkins earned a bachelor’s and two Master’s degrees from Troy State University. He operated his own accounting company, and taught classes at Southern Union Junior College and Auburn University. On May 12, 2017, Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr. awarded Adkins an honorary doctorate of laws.
In March 2020 Adkins was hospitalized with COVID-19, and was admitted to the intensive care unit and put on a ventilator after experiencing respiratory failure. He died on April 17, 2020 of complications from the virus, at the age of 86.
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.