ADVISORY: President Obama to Award the Medal of Honor

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

ADVISORY: President Obama to Award the Medal of Honor

WASHINGTON, DC – In the afternoon of Monday, September 15, 2014, President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins and to Army Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat for conspicuous gallantry. 

Command Sergeant Major Adkins will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions while serving as an Intelligence Sergeant assigned to Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces.  Then-Sergeant First Class Adkins distinguished himself during combat operations at Camp A Shau, Republic of Vietnam, on March 9 through March 12, 1966. 

Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions while serving as a Machine gunner with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division.  Specialist Four Sloat distinguished himself during combat operations in the vicinity of Hawk Hill Fire Base, Republic of Vietnam, on January 17, 1970.

PERSONAL BACKGROUND: 

Command Sergeant Major Adkins joined the Army in 1956, at the age of 22. He served in the 2nd Infantry Division until leaving to join Special Forces in 1961.  He deployed to Vietnam three times between February 1963 and December 1971; the actions for which he will receive the Medal of Honor took place during his second tour.

After Vietnam, Command Sergeant Major Adkins served approximately two years as First Sergeant for the Army Garrison Communications Command in Fort Huachuca, Arizona. He then joined Class #3 of the Army Sergeants Major Academy in El Paso, Texas. After graduation, he served with Special Forces at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and then led training at Fort Sherman’s Jungle School in the Panama Canal Zone. He retired from the Army in 1978.

Command Sergeant Major Adkins and his wife of 58 years, Mary Adkins, currently reside in Opelika, Alabama. They will both attend the Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House. 

Specialist Four Sloat entered the Army on March 19, 1969 from Coweta, Oklahoma. After completing his training, he was assigned as an M60 Machine Gunner, to 3rd Platoon, Delta Company, 2/1 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, in the Republic of Vietnam.

Specialist Four Sloat was killed in action on Jan. 17, 1970, at the age of 20.  On that day, his squad was conducting a patrol, when one of the Soldiers triggered a hand grenade trap placed in their path by enemy forces. Specialist Four Sloat picked up the live grenade, initially to throw it away. However, when he realized that detonation was imminent, he chose to shield its blast with his own body, sacrificing his own life to save the lives of three of his fellow Soldiers.

Dr. William Sloat of Enid, Oklahoma, will join the President at the White House to accept the Medal of Honor on his brother’s behalf. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

THE MEDAL OF HONOR:

The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while:

  • engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
  • engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
  • serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.