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Two heroes from Vietnam will receive Medal of Honor

Aug. 26, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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Two soldiers who served in Vietnam will receive the Medal of Honor in a Sept. 15 ceremony, the White House announced Tuesday. A third soldier, who fought in Gettysburg during the Civil War, will also receive the top valor award.

■ Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins will receive the medal for heroism for actions while serving as the intelligence sergeant assigned to Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces.

From March 9 to March 12, 1966, then-Sgt. 1st Class Adkins valiantly battled intense enemy fire attacking his unit’s position at Camp A Shau. Adkins had previously earned a Distinguished Service Cross for this battle.

“Although he was wounded, he ran through exploding mortar rounds and dragged several of his comrades to safety,” reads Adkins’ DSC citation. “When the hostile fire subsided [March 9], Sergeant First Class Adkins exposed himself to sporadic sniper fire and carried his wounded comrades to the camp dispensary. During the evacuation of a seriously wounded American, Sergeant First Class Adkins maneuvered outside the camp walls to draw fire and successfully covered the rescue.”

The next day, the Viet Cong launched another offensive.

“Within two hours, Sergeant First Class Adkins was the only man firing a mortar weapon. Although he was painfully wounded and most of his crew was killed or wounded, he fought off the fanatical waves of attacking Viet Cong,” states his DSC citation.

Adkins and a small group of his comrades fought their way out of the camp and successfully evaded the Viet Cong for two days before they were rescued via helicopter.

Adkins joined the Army in 1956, at the age of 22, the White House reports. He served in the 2nd Infantry Division until leaving to join Special Forces in 1961. He deployed to Vietnam three times.

He retired from the Army in 1978. Adkins and his wife of 59 years, Mary Adkins, residents of Opelika, Alabama, plan to attend the White House ceremony.

■ Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor for actions while serving as a machine gunner with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division.

Sloat was killed on Jan. 17, 1970, while fighting near Hawk Hill Fire Base in Vietnam. He was 20.

Sloat’s squad was conducting a patrol when one of the soldiers triggered a hand grenade trap placed in their path by enemy forces, the White House reported.

“Specialist Four Sloat picked up the live grenade, initially to throw it away. However, when he realized that detonation was imminent, he chose to shield its blast with his own body, sacrificing his own life to save the lives of three of his fellow soldiers,” the announcement reads.

Sloat, of Coweta, Oklahoma, joined the Army on March 19, 1969. Sloat’s brother, Dr. William Sloat of Enid, Oklahoma, will accept the Medal of Honor on his brother’s behalf.

MoH recipient from Pickett's charge

President Obama also approved the posthumous award of the Medal of Honor to 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing for heroism at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.

Cushing was the commander of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac. Cushing distinguished himself during combat operations against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1863.

“Cushing was killed in action on July 3, 1863, at the age of 22,” the White House statement reads. “On that day, the third day of the battle, in the face of Longstreet’s Assault, also known as Pickett’s Charge, First Lieutenant Cushing’s battery took a severe pounding by Confederate artillery. As the rebel infantry advanced, he manned the only remaining, and serviceable, field piece in his battery. During the advance, he was wounded in the stomach as well as in the right shoulder. Refusing to evacuate to the rear despite his severe wounds, he directed the operation of his lone field piece continuing to fire in the face of the enemy. With the rebels within 100 yards of his position, Cushing was shot and killed during this heroic stand. His actions made it possible for the Union Army to successfully repulse the Confederate assault. First Lieutenant Cushing is buried with full honors at his alma mater, West Point.”

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