President Trump To Award Posthumous Medal of Honor to 10th SoldierPosted: Updated:
President Donald Trump will award the Medal of Honor to a 10th Mountain Division soldier who died when he tackled an insurgent wearing an explosive "suicide vest," the White House announced Tuesday.
The award will be made March 27 to Staff Sergeant Travis W. Atkins. His son Trevor Oliver and family will join the president at the White House. Atkins was a member of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th.
"He loved the Army and he loved being with his troops," his mother, Elaine Atkins, said.
Atkins is remembered fondly by friends, family, and fellow soldiers.
"We went to Fort Drum for the deployment ceremony where they case the flags," his mother said. "Sitting in the stands and looking at the troops on the field, a parent always realizes that some of them are not going to come back."
Staff Sergeant Atkins served with the 2-14th of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team when he was deployed to Iraq in 2006.
On June 1, 2007, his squad was conducting route security when they came across two suspected insurgents.
As Atkins tried to search one of them, he noticed the Iraqi man was wearing an explosive vest. Atkins threw himself on top of the suicide bomber as the explosives went off, saving the other soldiers nearby.
Atkins was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army's second highest award.
But now, that award has been upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
Atkins' son Trevor Oliver will accept the high honor from President Trump.
"Yes, my dad's gone and that's hard, but it's the fact that what he did is so extreme, Oliver said. "That moves me even more."
In a statement, the White House said:
Staff Sergeant Travis W. Atkins will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions of June 1, 2007, in support of IRAQI FREEDOM. While serving in Iraq with Company D, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2d Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Staff Sergeant Atkins engaged in hand-to hand combat with a suspected insurgent. As he attempted to subdue the man, Staff Sergeant Atkins realized the insurgent was attempting to detonate a bomb strapped to his body. When he noticed the insurgent was about to trigger the suicide vest, Staff Sergeant Atkins tackled him, selflessly using his own body to shield his fellow soldiers from the imminent explosion. Staff Sergeant Atkins’ heroic actions, at the cost of his life, saved the lives of three of his teammates.
According to the statement, Atkins enlisted in the Army twice, once in 2000 and again in 2005. He is survived by his son, Trevor Oliver, of Coon Rapids, Minnesota, and his parents, John and Elaine Atkins of Bozeman, Montana.
In 2013, Fort Drum's "functional fitness facility" was renamed in Atkins' name.
The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest military honor.