Bennie Adkins, an 86-year-old Alabama medal of honor recipient, has been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to a post on his foundation’s Facebook page.
Adkins, who earned this country’s highest military honor in 2014 and lives in Opelika, is hospitalized, according to The Bennie Adkins Foundation Facebook page.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit home,” a post reads. “Bennie has been hospitalized and is critically ill with COVID-19 respiratory failure. We ask for your thoughts and prayers.”
Confirmed coronavirus cases in Alabama have climbed by double-digit percentages in the past two days. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 517 cases as of early Thursday evening, an increase of 34% over Wednesday. Two people in Alabama have died from the virus.
A Vietnam War veteran, Adkins earned the prestigious distinctions decades after he ran through enemy fire while rescuing injured comrades in 1966.
He fought off waves of North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces, rescuing fellow soldiers and evading the enemy in the jungle until a helicopter evacuation, according to previous Montgomery Advertiser reports.
He killed an estimated 135 to 175 enemy fighters and sustained 18 wounds, according to Army records.
Adkins was given the Distinguished Service Cross, but it took an act of Congress to waive time constraints and allow the president to award him the Medal of Honor 48 years after the battle.
Adkins retired from the Army in 1978 as a command sergeant major.
He earned three degrees from Troy State University, started his own accounting service in Auburn, and taught at what is now Southern Union State Community College and Auburn University.
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