Troy University alumnus Bennie Adkins, who received the Medal of Honor in 2014 for his heroism during the Vietnam War, passed away on Friday from complications related to the COVID-19 coronavirus. He was 86.
Adkins had been hospitalized since late March at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika.
Adkins served more than 20 years in the Army, about 13 of which were as a Green Beret in 7th, 3rd, 6th and 5th Special Forces Groups. He served three tours in Vietnam, Adkins received the Medal of Honor for his actions during 38 hours of close-combat fighting against enemy forces on March 9-12, 1966. At that time, then-Sgt. 1st Class Adkins was serving as an intelligence sergeant with Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces at Camp “A Shau,” in the Republic of Vietnam.
When the camp was overcome by enemy forces, Adkins displayed extraordinary courage and bravery as he rallied survivors and helped the wounded without regard to his own well-being. He sustained 18 different wounds as he helped his injured comrades to safety. His experiences were chronicled in the book, “A Tiger Among Us: A Story of Valor in Vietnam’s A Shau Valley,” which was written with author Katie Lamar Jackson and published in 2018.
“The Troy University family is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Bennie Adkins,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor. “We have lost a true friend, a hero and an extraordinary Trojan. He was a national treasure and the bravest warrior I have ever known. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones during this difficult time.”
Adkins held three degrees from Troy University – a bachelor’s degree in 1979, a Master’s Degree in Education in 1982, and then, a second Master’s Degree in Management in 1988, all from then-Troy State University Montgomery. He was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from TROY in May 2017.
He established Adkins Accounting Service, Inc., in Auburn, Alabama, and taught night classes at Alabama’s Southern Union Junior College and Auburn University for a number of years.
In 2017, Adkins created the Bennie Adkins Foundation, which provides scholarships to Special Forces transitioning to civilian life.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Mary Adkins, and is survived by daughter Mary Ann Adkins Blake (David), sons Michael Adkins (Christine), and W. Keith Adkins (Jaime), as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.