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In Monday’s Medal Of Honor Ceremony, 2 Vietnam Heroes Were Finally Recognized
After more than four decades, two acts of bravery by U.S. Army soldiers in Vietnam were recognized by President Barack Obama with the awarding of the Medal of Honor on Monday at the White House.
"Sometimes even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the fog of war or the passage of time," Obama said. "When new evidence comes to light, certain actions can be reconsidered for this honor, and it is entirely right and proper that we have done so."
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins survived the war despite three tours of duty with Special Forces and numerous wounds, while Spc. Donald P. Sloat was killed a few months into his first tour. Both gave their all to their military comrades.
Adkins was drafted from Waurika, Oklahoma, in 1956 as an administrative clerk-typist, but apparently the Army suited him better. He went on to join Special Forces in 1961, deploying to Vietnam early in the war in 1963.
It was during his second tour on Mar. 9, 1966, with the 5th Special Forces Group that he was involved in fierce fighting as several thousand North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces attempting to overrun his camp in the notorious A Shau Valley.
For the next 38 hours, Adkins and his comrades desperately defended the camp mortar pit, with Adkins exposing himself to intense enemy fire as he helped evacuate wounded to waiting choppers and retrieve air-dropped supplies. While fighting off wave after wave of enemy fire, he was also pounded by mortars.
“Three times, explosions blasted him out of that mortar pit, and three times, he returned,” Obama said.
By the next day, Adkins was the only man left able to fire the mortar. After the ammunition ran out, he dug a hole out the back of the pit and led the small group of survivors and wounded as they fought their way out of the camp, but missed the last evacuation chopper. For 48 hours, the group evaded the enemy in the jungle until a rescue chopper could reach them. Adkins was wounded 18 times, and killed as many as 175 of the enemy.
Spc. Sloat joined the Army in 1969 out of Coweta, Oklahoma, after failing his physical multiple times, but kept trying until he finally passed. He was assigned as a machine gunner with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment and deployed to Vietnam that same year.
After only a few months in country, Sloat’s squad was patrolling in the Que Son Valley as a blocking force when they came under fire. As the squad moved forward, the point man tripped a wire and a hand grenade rolled down the hill toward the squad.
Sloat managed to grab the grenade, but surrounded by soldiers, he had no place or time to toss it. He held it close to his body and fell on it, shielding his nearby comrades from the explosion. “I was only 5 to 8 feet behind Don, when the grenade went off. His act saved my life,” former Pfc. DeWayne C. Lewis said of the event.
“Specialist Four Sloat’s actions define the ultimate sacrifice of laying down his own life in order to save the lives of his comrades,” the president said.
Normally a recommendation for the Medal of Honor needs to be made within two years of the event, and the medal presented inside of three. But Congress has been known to make special exemptions for old cases.
An 80-year-old Adkins was present at the event with his family, along with the family of Sloat. “What I attribute this to is not my actions, but the actions of the other 16 Americans who were with us,” Adkins said in an Army interview last week “It is not a faint memory. I can tell you every man who was there and the five who lost their lives. I can tell you how it happened. It diminishes, but it does not go away.”
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Trump: $6.1 billion in DoD money going to border wall wasn’t for anything that seemed ‘too important to me’
President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."
Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."
D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.
"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."