Gov. Kay Ivey said Wednesday she will order flags to be lowered in honor of Alabama’s Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins, a recipient of the Medal of Honor, when more information is available about when his funeral can be held.
Adkins, from Lee County, died over the weekend from COVID-19. He was 86.
“Under normal circumstances, I would issue a flag memo immediately after a funeral date was announced, but a date is unknown at this time,” Ivey said in a memo on the flag lowering. “My office is in close communication with the Adkins family and will send a follow up flag memo when funeral arrangements have been made for his burial at Arlington National Cemetery.”
A native of Waurika, Oklahoma, Adkins served more than 20 years in the U.S. Army, over 13 of those years spent as a Green Beret in 7th, 3rd, 6th, and 5th Special Forces Groups.
He deployed to Vietnam three times, his heroic efforts in one 1966 battle later recognized in 2014 with the awarding of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
“A presidential Medal of Honor recipient, Sgt. Maj. Adkins was the epitome of a hero and a patriot,” Ivey said in a statement. “Alabama mourns his loss, but we continue to honor his life of tremendous service to our nation. … I send my sincerest prayers to his family and loved ones during their time of loss.”
During the 38-hour battle and 48 hours of escape and evasion, fighting with mortars, machine guns, recoilless rifles, small arms, and hand grenades, it was estimated that Adkins killed between 135 and 175 enemy combatants while sustaining eighteen different wounds to his body, according to his Medal of Honor citation.
“Sergeant First Class Adkins’ extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces and the United States Army,” the citation reads.
Following retirement in 1978 at the rank of Command Sergeant Major, Adkins earned his bachelor’s degree from Troy State University, in 1979. He earned his Master’s Degree in Education, in 1982, and then, a second Master’s Degree in Management, in 1988, all from Troy State University.
While pursuing his degrees, he established the Adkins Accounting Service in Auburn, where he served as its CEO for 22 years. He also taught night classes at Alabama’s Southern Union Junior College for 10 years and at Auburn University for six years.
In 2017, he established The Bennie Adkins Foundation, with the mission of providing educational scholarships to Special Forces soldiers. Honoring Command Sergeant Major Adkins’ commitment to service, education, and to his Special Forces brethren, his eponymous foundation aims “to reward deserving soldiers who have demonstrated the courage, sacrifice, and patriotism inherent in the Special Forces, and aid them as they continue trying to improve themselves through education.”