On September 14, 2014 80-year-old Bennie Adkins was awarded the Medal of Honor 48 years after his actions called for it – making his incredible story known to all.
In fact, as President Obama was speaking about his story, he paused at one point to say “you can’t make this stuff up.”
So why the long wait? Shortly after the battle, he was nominated for the Medal of Honor but for some unknown reason, as the request rose up the ranks, Army officials thought him better suited for the Distinguished Service Cross.
Many were upset at this injustice. Maybe it was politics, maybe it was a simple mistake, we’ll never know. However, when his congressman, Rep. Mike Rogers, was approached by the Adkins family about the issue in 2009 and he began to investigate, he immediately knew a major error had occurred.
After months and months of lobbying and pestering, the nomination and request went through.
Here is Adkins’ Medal of Honor citation:
When Adkins’ camp was attacked by a large North Vietnamese and Viet Cong force in the early morning hours of March 9, 1966, 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, Adkins exposed himself to sporadic sniper fire while carrying his wounded comrades to the camp dispensary.
When 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, 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, Adkins was the only man firing a mortar weapon. When all mortar rounds were expended, Adkins began placing effective recoilless rifle fire upon enemy positions. Despite receiving additional wounds from enemy rounds exploding on his position, Adkins fought off intense waves of attacking Viet Cong.
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, 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. 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 Adkins killed between 135 and 175 of the enemy while sustaining eighteen different wounds to his body.
Here’s footage of the award ceremony: