COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)- Medal of Honor recipient Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins received a hero’s sendoff and final salute this morning in Opelika.
Adkins died in April from complications associated with COVID-19, and was escorted from Opelika to Atlanta so that he could be buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.
“The hero’s sendoff was obviously very emotional,” family friend James Birdsong said. “I know this has been a long time coming since he passed back in April, but to see all the support and to get to see all the folks out here early this morning at 7 o’clock means a lot to this community.”
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office supervised the escort along the route of Interstate 35 to Atlanta. Family and friends gathered for a moment of silence at Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home to honor the late Adkins.
“Certainly for a man that went through so much in his life as he did, he found so much joy and never met a stranger,” Birdsong said. “And we’re all better for it.”
Adkins was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2014 for his actions during the 2-day battle of Camp A Shau in 1966.
Adkins and a small group of American troops were heavily outnumbered and outgunned in the battle, and Adkins is credited with saving the lives of fellow soldiers by helping to lead survivors to escape, despite his own injuries incurred during the fight.
He told the story of his fight against the enemy during the Vietnam War in his book, “A Tiger Among Us.”
“He has received many accolades and every one is so well deserved,” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said of Adkins. “Men of his caliber only come along once in a while. “The kind of man that you know can be depended upon in tough times.”
Adkins will be buried with full military honors on December 16 in Arlington, VA where he will join his wife Mary, who passed away in 2019.