President Barack Obama will present the Medal of Honor next month to two U.S. Army soldiers who hailed from small Oklahoma towns and showed “conspicuous gallantry” during the Vietnam War.
A White House press release issued Tuesday noted the home town of Army Spc. 4 Donald P. Sloat, who was from the Wagoner County town of Coweta.
It did not mention that Army Command Sgt. Major Bennie G. Adkins was drafted from the Jefferson County town of Waurika. Adkins now lives in Alabama.
A U.S. Army web page details the actions Adkins took during 38 hours of close combat against a large North Vietnames and Viet Cong force at Camp A Shau in March, 1966.
“During the 38-hour battle and 48-hours of escape and evasion, Adkins fought with mortars, machine guns, recoilless rifles, small arms, and hand grenades, killing an estimated 135 – 175 of the enemy and sustaining 18 different wounds,” the Army description says.
“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.”
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,”a White House statement says.
“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.”
Sloat was a machine gunner with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division.
Dr. William Sloat of Enid, , will join the president at the White House on Sept. 15 to accept the Medal of Honor on his brother’s behalf, the White House said.
The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military honor.