Alumni

Medal of Honor recipient helping Special Forces members attend college

April 14, 2017

TROY alumnus and Medal of Honor winner Bennie Adkins wants to serve today’s Special Forces in a way that will help them transition to civilian life.

Keith Adkins, left, stands next to his father, former Green Beret and retired CSM Bennie Adkins, a Troy University alum.

Keith Adkins, left, stands next to his father, former Green Beret and retired CSM Bennie Adkins, a TROY alum.

The former Green Beret and retired command sergeant major in the U.S. Army Special Forces spent three tours of duty in Vietnam, serving in some of the most active war zones in the Vietnam theater. His actions during his second tour of duty in the A Shau Valley in 1966 resulted in a Distinguished Service Cross and, in 2014, the Congressional Medal of Honor. He completed his undergraduate degree and two master’s degrees at TROY and launched an accounting firm that he ran for 22 years before retiring.

Now, CSM Adkins is turning his attention to the current generation of Special Forces through the creation of the Benny Adkins Foundation.

“What I’m attempting to do with the Foundation — and what we’re going to do with the Foundation — is to award scholarships with the priority of these scholarships going to the Special Forces enlisted,” he said during a Foundation kick-off event at the state’s Department of Archives and History on Thursday, April 13.

“The reason I selected Special Forces enlisted is that these are the individuals who have been downrange better than 16 years protecting our way of life. These scholarships will help them make the transition out of the military into the civilian world,” Adkins said. “The true heroes are those soldiers who are serving today, and I am looking forward to give something back and help them as they transition into civilian life.”

Adkins, born in Waurika, Oklahoma and reared on a farm there, said he dropped out of college because “I was more interested in the good looking girls than the academic work.” Shortly after starting work, he was drafted. In 1961, he earned the green beret, and in Feb. 1963 began his first tour of duty in Vietnam. A sergeant first class by the time he was airlifted into the A Shau Valley in March 1966 along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Adkins served during a three-day battle that threatened to overrun the U.S. positions. His mortar position survived the attack, but his crew was killed.

Adkins recruited “indigenous personnel” to man his mortar. He was wounded in a fire fight while evacuating his wounded master sergeant, by hand grenade shrapnel and was instrumental in the survival of his remaining command, leading a remnant group of soldiers and a wounded man into the jungle until they could be evacuated 48 hours later.

After brief stint on a hospital ship, “I was back right out there doing the same thing.”

The Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, accepts donations for scholarships. Visit them at bennieadkinsfoundation.org.

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