On Tuesday, the White House announced President Donald Trump will posthumously give the nation’s high military award to Staff Sgt. Travis W. Atkins later this month. Atkins’ son and his family will receive the Medal of Honor on his behalf.
According to the Army, Atkins "went above and beyond the call of duty on June 1, 2007, while his unit — Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team — conducted route clearance southwest of Baghdad.”
During the mission, the Montana native heard over the radio possible insurgents were crossing a intersection in the Iraqi town of Abu Samak. He ordered his truck to pull up to the intersection to investigate.
When Atkins was searching a suspect for weapons, the man resisted and started to detonate his explosive vest that was hidden under his clothes. Without thinking about his own safety, Atkins “grabbed the suicide bomber from behind with a bear hug and slammed him onto the ground, away from his Soldiers. As he pinned the insurgent to the ground, the bomb detonated.”
Atkins was originally given the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s second highest award, before being upgraded to a Medal of Honor.
Atkins originally enlisted in the Army on November 9, 2000, where he was later assigned to Company A, 3d Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
He went on one deployment to Iraq in 2003 before being honorably discharged as a Sergeant. He re-enlisted into Army after finishing school at the University of Montana. He went on his last deployment to Iraq in August of 2006.
"When my 4-year-old son Travis tells me his favorite superhero is Captain America and asks me who my favorite superhero is, my reply always has and will be Staff Sgt. Travis W. Atkins," then-Sgt. Aaron Hall, Atkins' battle buddy, said at a dedication ceremony for a gym named after him at Fort Drum, New York.