Retired Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie Adkins, a Medal of Honor recipient who spent part of his military career with the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), died Friday at the age of 86. Adkins passed after battling coronavirus for nearly a month.
OPELIKA, Alabama — Retired Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie Adkins, a Medal of Honor recipient whose military career included service with the Eglin Air Force Base-headquartered Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), has died from COVID-19, according to an announcement from his scholarship foundation.
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Adkins, 86, battled the illness caused by the spreading new coronavirus for 23 days before his passing on Friday. An Oklahoma native, Adkins spent more than 20 years in the Army, with 13 of those years spent in Special Forces. In addition to serving with the 7th Group, Adkins’ military career included service with the 3rd, 6th and 5th Special Forces Groups.
Adkins earned the Medal of Honor for his service with the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam. The medal was presented to him by President Barack Obama in 2014, upgrading the Distinguished Service Cross which he was originally awarded for his heroics during a 38-hour battle in the A Shau Valley in 1966.
In part, his Medal of Honor citation reads, “During the thirty-eight hour battle and forty-eight hours of escape and evasion, fighting with mortars, machine guns, recoilless rifles, small arms, and hand grenades, it was estimated that Sergeant First Class Adkins killed between 135 and 175 of the enemy while sustaining eighteen different wounds to his body.”
In December 2018, Adkins was on hand at the 7th Group’s Camp Simons near Crestview when the first Medal of Honor awarded to an American soldier in the Vietnam War was enshrined in the 7th Group’s headquarters building.
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Three years ago, Adkins established the Bennie Adkins Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to Special Forces soldiers.
Adkins’ family issued a statement via Twitter following his death on Friday, saying, “We lost a great husband, father and warrior today. Bennie G. Adkins passed away this afternoon. Please keep his family in your prayers."
Funeral arrangements are pending, according Jeffcoat Trant Funeral Home and Crematory in Opelika. Adkins will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.