Today, March 29th is National Vietnam Veterans Day. On this day, one legendary Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War, Command Sgt Maj Bennie Adkins, 86, lies in a hospital bed, battling for his life against an unseen enemy: COVID-19.
UPDATE: We are sad to report that Bennie Adkins succumbed to COVID-19 on April 17, 2020.
Command Sgt Maj Bennie Adkins is a hero from the battle at Camp A-Shau, March 9-12, 1966 in the jungles of Vietnam. We have written about him before, after his book “A Tiger Among Us: A Story of Valor in the A Shau Valley.” The tiger, he explained, helped scare off the Viet Cong, but we’re pretty sure his sawed-off shotgun sidearm helped.
His Medal of Honor citation reads, in part:
“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.”
SgtMaj Bennie Adkins saved the lives of 8 men at great risk to his own, and took out the enemy, while taking 18 wounds to his body. It took extreme grit to keep doing what he did while wounded. He spent 22 years in the US Army.
It’s a different war that he’s fighting right now, and reports say he is in critical condition. Many of our precious Vietnam Veterans are vulnerable at this point during the pandemic.
On this National Vietnam Veterans Day, we’d ask that if you know a Vietnam Veteran, please tell them welcome home and thank them for their sacrifices. It’s terribly sad that this pandemic has placed so many of them at risk. We hope that Bennie Adkins will survive. Back in 2014, he asked if he could reenlist to serve again. That’s the spirit of a hero.