History Wars Iraq War

MoH Monday: Army Sergeant Travis Atkins

Staff Sergeant Travis William Atkins was a member of the United States Army who received a posthumous Medal of Honor for his heroism.
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Travis Atkins

Army Sgt. Travis Atkins poses with members of his unit in Iraq in 2007. (Photo courtesy of the Atkins family)

Staff Sergeant Travis William Atkins was a member of the United States Army who received a posthumous Medal of Honor for his heroism in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Travis Atkins Background

Atkins was born in Great Falls, Montana, on December 9, 1975. He grew up loving the outdoors and spent much time hunting, fishing, and camping. Then, after graduating high school, Atkins became restless and discontent with his civilian life.

On November 9, 2000, he joined the United States Army and attended basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia. In 2003, he deployed to Kuwait, where he served as an infantry fire team leader during the invasion of Iraq. He received an honorable discharge on his return.

He then attended the University of Montana and earned a living as a concrete contractor. However, he again found himself dissatisfied with life outside the military. Atkins missed the army and enjoyed being amongst his fellow soldiers. He left Montana and re-enlisted in the army in 2006.

He deployed to Iraq again with the 2nd Platoon, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. There, his demonstrated bravery earned him his Medal of Honor.

travis atkins medal of honor
Army Sgt. Travis Atkins with his parents, Jack and Elaine, during a visit to see him at Fort Drum, N.Y., in 2006. Photo courtesy of the Atkins family

Medal of Honor Action

On the morning of June 1, 2007, Specialist Atkins was on a security detail in the Iraqi town of Abu Samak with his fellow service members. As they patrolled the area, they discovered a group of unauthorized men who seemed suspicious. Always vigilant, Atkins drove his vehicle up to the men and got out to confront them.

As Sergeant Atkins approached the group of suspicious men, he noticed their hostile demeanor as they refused to let him search them for weapons. In no time, a fight broke out. During the struggle, Atkins realized that one of the men was wearing a suicide vest, which escalated the situation into a dangerous and potentially deadly encounter.

Acting quickly and without hesitation, Atkins grappled with the man, both of them falling to the ground. The combatant then tried to trigger the explosive device by reaching under his clothes. At this critical moment, Atkins recognized the lives of his fellow service members were at risk. With unwavering bravery, he courageously threw himself on top of the man, protecting his comrades from the inevitable blast.

The device detonated and mortally wounded Atkins. Yet, his bravery and selflessness saved the lives of his fellow soldiers. His actions saved the lives of his fellow service members. Specialist Atkins was a true hero, sacrificing himself to keep others safe.

On March 27, 2019, President Donald Trump presented Atkins’ son Trevor with his father’s Medal of Honor during a special ceremony at the White House. The military awarded Sergeant Atkins the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart for his bravery during the conflict.