A fallen hero who sacrificed his life to save the lives of his fellow American service members around him was honored on Wednesday by President Donald Trump who presented posthumously the Medal of Honor.
“In his final moments on earth, Travis did not run. He didn’t know what it was to run,” Trump said. “He laid down his life to save the lives of his fellow warriors.” The president continued:
“In so doing, he embodied the deepest meaning of the motto of the 10th Mountain Division. He climbed to glory. Now Travis is looking down from above on all of us, on all of his fellow warriors, on his great family. Wrapped in glory, the loving glory of almighty God.”
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) March 27, 2019
Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins deployed on his second tour to Iraq but on June 1, 2007, he was met with a decision to give up his life for three other servicemembers.
While securing a road in the town of Abu Samak, there were two suspicious men and when Atkins realized one of the men had a suicide vest, he bear-hugged the man without hesitation, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
“I want him to be remembered as the best father that anyone could ask for, and also at the same time, being the best soldier that anyone could ask for,” Trevor Oliver, Akins’ son said in a tribute video, later calling his late father his “icon.”
Watch the video below:
#ICYMI the @POTUS posthumously presented Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins the #MedalofHonor. Atkins made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq in 2007, saving the lives of three fellow Soldiers. Read his remarkable story here: https://t.co/wH1bzF7cQr #HonorThem #ServeWithHonor pic.twitter.com/CNs4THDAnq
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) March 28, 2019
“We are humbly reminded of the invaluable cost of freedom,” the first lady wrote in response to Atkins’ service. “His last actions were made to save the lives of his teammates. God Bless our troops.”
We are humbly reminded of the invaluable cost of freedom. Staff Sergeant Travis Atkins, United States Army, receives the #MedalofHonor posthumously today through his family. We honor SSgt Atkins. His last actions were made to save the lives of his teammates. God Bless our troops.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) March 27, 2019
At Wednesday’s ceremony to honor Atkins’ selfless sacrifice and bravery while serving overseas, President Trump honored the late service member by presenting Atkins’ son with the award on his behalf. Atkins’ parents also joined in accepting the medal of honor.
“He was an absolute hero in a lot of people’s eyes, mainly mine for the way he was as a father — goofy, kind, tough,” Trevor said, also thanking his father for “making me who I am.”
The parents of Staff Sgt Travis Atkins also join in accepting the Medal of Honor from Pres Trump on their son's behalf. Atkins was 31 at the time of his death durng his 2nd tour of duty their in 2007. pic.twitter.com/Ju1DgJN4as
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) March 27, 2019
Atkins was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross award, the second highest military award, but it was upgraded on Wednesday to the highest award.
Watch the video below:
“He had definitely sacrificed himself so that we could live,” Sand Aijo, the machine gunner in their humvee, told CBS News of Atkins’ brave moment. “That’s when Travis started to actually engage in a form of hand to hand combat with this man. Travis bear-hugged the man, lifted him off the ground and slammed him down.”
“The real reward is what your men think of you,” Atkins’ father, who is a Vietnam veteran, said.
Watch the comments from the parents of the “fallen hero” below:
"It was good to see that there was a grateful nation that were as thankful as I was for the sacrifice he made for me and others."
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) March 28, 2019
This week, those who’ve received the highest medal in the military, the Medal of Honor, were recognized by the different branches of the military on Medal of Honor day Monday.
“Because these young Marines, they believe in you, they would die for you,” Sgt. Maj. John Canley, a recipient of the Medal of Honor, said in the U.S. Marines video.
Watch the videos honoring medal of honor recipients below:
The Medal of Honor is the highest award this nation can give a service member.
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) March 25, 2019
On March 25, 1863, the first #MedalsofHonor were presented. For #MedalOfHonorDay, the #USArmy honors those who have received our nation's highest award for valor in combat.https://t.co/3JnJRsA9sY pic.twitter.com/t8DQlsT7wH
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) March 25, 2019
— U.S. Air Force (@usairforce) March 25, 2019
Today is #NationalMedalofHonorDay. Follow the link below to learn about the #USNavy's four most recent recipients of our country's highest award for valor – https://t.co/vBkTcgSTzh pic.twitter.com/xgy6NYd5j2
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) March 25, 2019
After Wednesday’s ceremony, it was the president’s eighth time awarding the Medal of Honor to the brave service members who are heroes in the eyes of many.