A Vietnam war hero who received the Medal of Honor after he carried troops to safety by running through exploding mortar rounds has died after contracting coronavirus.
Retired Army Commander Sgt Maj. Bennie Adkins died at the hospital where one of his sons worked on April 17.
The 86-year-old said he survived mortar attacks and 18 injuries while saving his fellow troops because “It was not my day.”
Despite his injuries Adkins managed to kill more than 130 enemy troops, even catching a Vietnamese hand grenade in mid-air and throwing it back to the enemy.
He and his surviving comrades finally managed to escape thanks to a tiger.
“This tiger could smell the blood on us, and surrounded us, and the North Vietnamese soldiers that had us surrounded was more afraid of the tiger than they were of us. They backed off and gave us room and we were gone again,” said Adkins, who co-authored a 2018 book about his wartime exploits titled “A Tiger Among Us.”
Taught night classes at a jail
They were rescued two days later by a helicopter.
After retiring from the army after more than 20 years of service, Adkins returned to school to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree, ran an accounting firm, and taught night classes at two colleges and a jail.
He set up The Bennie Adkins Foundation, which has provided about 50 educational scholarships to Special Forces soldiers.
“He was really committed to help others advance themselves,” said Katie Lamar Jackson, who co-authored Adkins’ book, as per Rare.
Highest military honor
The Alabama resident, born in Oklahoma during the dust bowl, received the nation’s highest military honor from then-President Barack Obama during a 2014 White House ceremony.
The humble hero explained his courageous actions as just doing his job.
“That was what I was trained for. That was what I was paid for as a professional soldier and I was trying to do the job in a professional way,” Adkins said in an oral history project for the Library of Congress after the award ceremony.
Adkins, who was married for 60 years, died three weeks after being admitted to hospital.
Social distancing rules
His son, who said he wanted his father’s legacy to be not just what he did in the military, is unsure when a funeral will be held due to social distancing rules, according to Rare.
When it does happen Adkins will be buried beside his wife Mary at Arlington National Cemetery, a military cemetery in Virginia.
Please share to honor this war hero and the work he did to help others after he served in the military. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.