In the chaos that too many Americans have come to know as “combat,” the United States of America is fortunate to have an incredible amount of heroes, who selflessly sacrifice for their country. Yesterday, Staff Sergeant Travis W. Atkins was recognized at one of those heroes as his son accepted the Medal of Honor for his dad who died to save his fellow service members in Abu Samak, Iraq.
“(Atkins) rose to the highest calling, he laid down his life to save the lives of his fellow warriors. In so doing, he embodied the deepest meaning of the motto of the 10th Mountain Division: He climbed to glory,” said President Trump at the White House ceremony.
Serving his second tour in Iraq, Atkins and his squad were completing a route clearance mission southwest of Baghdad. Two men were crossing the road ahead of Atkin’s parked Humvee. As the Soldiers yelled at the two men, they began to react. Atkins initiated a search with one of the men when the situation became hostile as they engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Shortly thereafter, Atkins recognized the suicide vest on the man, wrapped his arms around him taking him to the ground where the explosives went off killing both men but saving the lives of Atkin’s squad members.
“In his final moments on earth, Travis did not run — he didn’t know what it was to run. He did not hesitate,” Trump said.
Atkins is originally from Bozeman, Montana and enjoyed the outdoor life. After working as a contractor for some time, he enlisted in the Army to serve with the 101stAirborne Division deploying to Kuwait and Iraq in 2003. After this tour, Atkins decided to go home and work toward his college degree. Feeling unfilled, he re-enlisted in 2005 and was assigned the legendary 10thMountain Division before deploying again, this time as a Staff Sergeant to Iraq in 2007.
Originally, his gallantry was recognized with the Distinguished Service Cross. However, the Department of Defense reviewed Atkins great act of valor and on March 27, 2019 he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Trevor accepted the medal from the President and told the crowd how much he enjoyed listening to his dad’s stories about his battle buddies. The young man was 11 years old when he lost his dad but had great things to say about his American-hero-dad.
In January 2013, the leadership at Fort Drum, New York dedicated one their 10thMountain Division gyms, as the Atkins Functional Fitness Facility. Atkin’s service will be remembered by every service member assigned there for generations to come.
HMG Staff Writer: Carl Ey
Photo By: Department of Defense