3 years ago

Alabama Medal of Honor recipient endorses Trump. Here’s his legendary story.

Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins participating in a press conference just after receiving the Medal of Honor at the White House, Sept. 15, 2014. (Photo: Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller)
Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins participating in a press conference just after receiving the Medal of Honor at the White House, Sept. 15, 2014. (Photo: Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller)

NEW YORK — Fourteen Medal of Honor recipients endorsed Donald J. Trump for president on Monday, the campaign announced, including Alabama’s own US Army Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) Bennie Adkins.

“It is a tremendous honor to have the support of these fourteen heroes who bravely fought to defend America and rid the world of tyranny,” said Mr. Trump. “These soldiers are the personification of courage under fire; they are the best of us all. Their honorable service to our country is an inspiration to every one of us and is a reminder that America has been the world’s most indispensable nation because of the great character of our people. I thank each of these Medal of Honor recipients for their faith in me to serve as our next president and commander-in-chief.”

In 1966, 32-year-old Sergeant First Class Bennie G. Adkins of the Army’s 5th Special Forces Group was already being recognized for his exemplary service during his second tour of combat. On March 9 of that year, a large North Vietnamese and Viet Cong force attacked his camp.

Over the next 48 hours, Adkins went from being a well-known and highly respected leader in his unit, to the kind of soldier that generations of U.S. Army Special Forces talk about any time that stories of extreme valor come up in conversation.

According to an official citation, “During the thirty-eight hour battle and forty-eight 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 of the enemy while sustaining eighteen different wounds to his body.” (Read the full, incredible story here)

On Sept. 15, 2014, Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins was awarded the Medal of Honor, almost half a century after returning from the jungles of Vietnam to the political and social upheaval of late 1960s America.

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins in a ceremony at the White House Sept. 15, 2014 (Photo: Cliff Sims)
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins in a ceremony at the White House Sept. 15, 2014 (Photo: Cliff Sims)

Medal of Honor recommendations usually must be made within two years of the act of heroism and must be presented within three years.

So why did it take so long for Adkins to be recognized?

“In 2009 Command Sergeant Major Adkins’ family contacted my office and told us that they were going to try to get this wrong righted,” U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL3), Adkins’ Congressman, told Yellowhammer.

From that moment forward, Rogers made it his personal mission to make sure Adkins received the honor he was due.

Rogers immediately moved for there to be a review of Adkins’ records. Fortunately, all of the documentation the Army compiled after Adkins’ heroic efforts — including first-hand accounts from American soldiers who are still alive — had been preserved by the Pentagon.

According to the documentation, Mr. Adkins was nominated for the Medal of Honor shortly after the battle by his chain of command. In doing that, his commanding officer, who was in the battle with him, wrote a five-page narrative detailing what had happened. The Army then took statements from every soldier who was with him and documented all of the communications that took place during the battle.

But as the recommendation worked its way up the chain of command to the general officer level, they inexplicably decided Adkins’ actions merited the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest military honor, rather than the Medal of Honor.

When Congressman Rogers’ office started pushing for the Army to revisit Adkins’ story, there was a treasure trove of original battlefield information still intact.

“You’ve got to get the documentation that supports the review,” Rogers said, explaining the process. “Then the Secretary of Defense has to review it and decide that he would like to see it recommended to the president. After that happened, we had to go back and get an exception to the law, which says that the Medal of Honor must be awarded within three years of the event. So we had to get Congress to pass a law to say this deserves an exception.”

Rogers lobbied his colleagues incessantly.

“There was a lot of resistance, surprisingly,” he said. “But one thing that really helped was that Secretary (of Defense) Hagel was asking for this. He had reviewed it and felt like it was an injustice that needed to be remedied. It finally got passed, but it took several months.”

In addition to lobbying Congress, Rogers also had to make his case to the White House, who would not normally be receptive to the requests of a Republican congressman from Alabama.

“We spent several months pestering the president’s office,” Rogers laughed. “Fortunately they did the right thing.”

“Sometimes even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the fog of war or the passage of time,” President Obama said. “When new evidence comes to light, certain actions can be reconsidered for this honor, and it is entirely right and proper that we have done so.”

As for the reason why Adkins and other deserving soldiers were not properly honored initially upon their return, Rogers said he was not exactly sure, but believes it could have been a combination of the post-war political climate, as well as prejudice.

“There were clearly some prejudices involved when you look at who was and wasn’t recognized after Vietnam,” he said. “Some folks were of a different race, some folks were a certain religion, and some folks were from the South. So there was some of that involved. It may have been because Bennie was a southern boy. You never know.”

In September of 2014, in the East Room of the White House, all of the efforts of Adkins’ family and Rogers’ office came to fruition. Four of the five living men whose lives were saved by Adkins between March 9 and March 12, 1966 joined him at the White House in a scene that had been a half-century in the making.

Adkins, who is now 82-years-old and walks with a cane, rose unassisted and stood at attention as the President of the United States bestowed upon him his nation’s highest military honor. Adkins’ chin quivered ever so slightly as President Obama placed the medal around his neck. His wife of 59 years, Mary, beamed with pride on the front row, smiling as she wiped tears from her eyes.

Adkins snapped off a perfectly formed salute to the crowd before exiting the stage.

“This Medal of Honor belongs to the other 16 Special Forces soldiers with me,” he would later say with genuine humility.

And as the Army Chaplain led the audience in a closing prayer, Bennie G. Adkins of Opelika, Ala., stood once more to honor the One who had always been with him, from the jungles of Vietnam to the East Room of the White House and everywhere in between.

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins in a ceremony at the White House Sept. 15, 2014 (Photo: Cliff Sims)
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins in a ceremony at the White House Sept. 15, 2014 (Photo: Cliff Sims)
5 hours ago

Bill to abolish marriage licenses passes Alabama House, heads to Ivey’s desk

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday passed SB 69, State Sen. Greg Albritton’s (R-Atmore) bill that would end marriage licenses in the Yellowhammer State.

The bill previously passed the House on a 67-26 vote. The legislation previously passed the Senate 26-0.

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After Obergefell v. Hodges essentially created a protected legal right to marriage, judges in some Alabama counties decided to stop issuing marriage licenses altogether so they would not have to approve licenses for gay couples.

Instead of the local probate office issuing marriage licenses in each county, the new system proposed by SB 69 would simply provide for affidavits of marriage to be filed with the probate office. So, instead of needing a probate judge’s approval for marriage, spouses would only have to register with the probate judge’s office.

This means judges who have religious objections to gay marriage will no longer have to issue marriage licenses in violation of their religious beliefs. Proponents of the bill said SB 69 will ensure federal law is being followed in the state while taking away the burden of approval or rejection of marriages from individual probate judges.

Opponents of the legislation have said the bill was born out of prejudice.

State Rep. Neil Rafferty (D-Birmingham), the only openly gay member in the Alabama House, told reporters the bill itself is not prejudiced but that it originated from “homophobia.”

However, no members of the House debated SB 69 on the floor, making for a surprisingly quick final passage. State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) handled the bill in the chamber.

The bill now heads to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 hours ago

Byrne, Shelby file bill to ensure terrorists like the ‘American Taliban’ are never again released early

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) on Thursday introduced the No Leniency for Terrorists Act that would prevent convicted terrorists from being released from federal prison early for good behavior.

Yellowhammer News was the first to report on this legislation when it was imminent on Wednesday.

The legislation being filed comes the day John Walker Lindh, known as the “American Taliban,” was released years early on his original 20-year sentence.

“A convicted terrorist walking free before his sentence is completed should never happen again,” Byrne said in a statement.

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After being captured in Afghanistan in 2001, Lindh pled guilty to serving as a soldier of the Taliban. He was held responsible for the death of Johnny Micheal “Mike” Spann, a Winfield native and Auburn University alumnus who was the first American known to be killed in “The War on Terror” in Afghanistan after 9/11.

“The Spann family asked me to address this injustice, and I want to make sure no other family has to go through what the they have been through,” Byrne concluded. “The No Leniency for Terrorists Act will prevent terrorists from taking advantage of our laws to avoid paying their debt to society. We must ensure that terrorists will remain behind bars where they belong.”

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Congressman Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) joined Shelby and Byrne in introducing the legislation.

“The early release of convicted terrorists sends the wrong message to those who have fought against terrorism and those who want to cause us harm,” Shelby remarked. “This legislation will help us prioritize the safety and security of our nation above all else. Today’s early release of John Walker Lindh is disheartening and unacceptable, and I am proud we are taking this step to make terrorists ineligible for early release.”

Under existing federal law, any federal prisoner can be released early for “exemplary compliance with institutional disciplinary regulations.”

There are no exceptions to this law, including those who have been convicted of terrorism charges, and there are 108 other terrorist offenders who are scheduled to complete their sentences and be released from U.S. federal prison over the next few years. The No Leniency for Terrorists Act amends federal law to say those currently serving or those convicted of crimes related to terrorism in the future cannot be released early for good time served.

As of a 2017 Foreign Policy article, Lindh still intended to spread terrorist ideology upon his release from prison.

His release came only a day after NBC reported that Lindh, in a letter to a producer from Los Angeles-based affiliate KNBC, wrote in 2015 that ISIS is “doing a spectacular job” and “is clearly very sincere and serious about fulfilling the long-neglected religious obligation to establish a caliphate through armed struggle.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 hours ago

Mountain Brook High School band members prepare to perform on the beaches of Normandy

Mountain Brook High School’s marching band is gearing up to participate in the D-Day 75 Normandy Parade, which will commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2019, according to a CBS 42 report.

Expected to leave June 4 and return June 11, the 24 students from Mountain Brook High School taking part in the event will reportedly march on the beaches of Normandy as they are looked upon by cheering crowds.

Band director Jason Smith shared his excitement of the opportunity and said he was “proud” of the kids.

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“I’m so proud, these kids are the hardest working kids at Mountain Brook High School,” Smith said via CBS 42. “The parents have stepped up to support there travels, and their ability to do something like this is unspeakable.”

D-Day occurred on June 6, 1944, and 160,000 forces, including 70,000 Americans landed on 50 miles of Normandy coast. More than 2,000 Americans lost their lives when they stormed the beach to reach high ground. Over 8,000 others also lost their lives in the days after.

Donations can be made to support the Mountain High School Band by calling 205-414-3810 to speak with Jason Smith or by emailing smithj@mtnbrook.k12.al.us.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

7 hours ago

Montgomery selected by military for major software development project

Alabama’s capital city has been selected by the Air Force for a new software development project that will attract top IT talent to the area, spurring increased new-age economic development in Montgomery.

TechMGM, the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s initiative to connect and leverage the city’s unique technology assets, on Wednesday announced a partnership with the Air Force Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate Program Executive Office to host a new military software development project that will offer private sector collaboration called BESPIN.

Marking a shift in the way the Air Force approaches software development and acquisition, BESPIN (Business and Enterprise Systems Product Innovation), pairs in-house developers with private sector developers and uses an agile development methodology in a collaborative and innovative environment to turn projects into new solutions to support the Department of Defense.

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The Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate based at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base has been charged by the secretary of the Air Force for acquisition to stand-up a software factory focusing on Business and Enterprise Systems (BES) applications. BES runs the systems that run the Air Force.

The local chamber partnered with BES to provide an initial off-base space at their facility, where work is already underway to create mobile applications for BES with the first focus being logistics systems used on the flight line, including those at Maxwell Air Force Base and the Alabama Air National Guard.

Through BESPIN, previously slow and costly products can now be met with flexible solutions that allow developers to adapt on the fly – and deliver real results more quickly.

By training and encouraging in-house talent to develop software using agile practices, the Air Force is starting to attract top IT talent. Meanwhile, they are also collaborating with digital services market leaders to transform their process and train their workforce.

In April, BES awarded a contract to Fearless, the company responsible for 1). redesigning the SBA.gov site, 2). modernizing Medicare beneficiary API products for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and 3). building software for other federal, nonprofit, city and healthcare clients.

“Fearless is excited to partner with USAF, TechMGM, and the City of Montgomery at large to support in the growth of the local tech ecosystem. The BESPIN and TechMGM visions align well with our mission to build software with a soul, and to see a world where good software powers things that matter,” Delali Dzirasa, president of Fearless, stated.

BES is also a founding member of the national Digital Services Coalition and is passionate about assisting the government in making its technology work better for all residents.

“We’re essentially replicating a structure that has proven successful in the commercial sector and applying it to the Air Force and building upon the foundation set by our peers at Kessel Run. What previously worked just isn’t cutting it anymore – we’ve got to be faster and more efficient,” Richard Aldridge, BES program executive officer, said in a statement.

He outlined, “Launching BESPIN has reimagined our view on software acquisition and the way we solve problems. We’re confident that the brightest minds in the creation of business software and mobile solutions will be attracted to serving our country by solving some of the most pressing issues that the Air Force faces today.”

Not only will BESPIN have significant implications for the Air Force, the connection with TechMGM and Fearless will strengthen the community in several ways.

“Montgomery prioritizes military missions, so we are honored to host this important project for the Air Force to advance their efforts in creating solutions for our nation,” Willie Durham, chairman of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, advised.

Through partnerships with TechMGM and other key area resources within Montgomery’s unique tech ecosystem, BESPIN will aim to support the city’s infrastructure to eventually lead to lasting change in the region.

“The chamber supports any type of partnership that advances the military because it is not only good for our country, but also for our community,” Durham added. “Initiatives like BESPIN allow our region to attract and retain talent, spark new businesses and create a cycle of economic development that will have lasting effects in Montgomery for years to come.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 hours ago

With the lottery dead, what about the illegal gambling in Alabama?

When the session started it almost seemed certain that there would be some form of lottery passed through the Alabama legislature, signed by the governor and voted on by the people in March 2020.

But in Alabama politics the only certain thing is uncertainty and now, by all accounts, the lottery is more dead than Doug Jones’ 2020 reelection.

The questions that doomed this lottery are the same as always, “Who gets the money?” Schools or the general fund? Prisons or college scholarships?

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It is hard to believe it has been 20 years since Alabama narrowly rejected a lottery, a gambit that sent a corrupt former Governor Don Siegelman to the clink.

In those 20 years, it appears we are no closer to forcing Alabama residents who play the lottery to drive across state lines and send their money to other states.

Regardless, this chapter in the saga appears to be over.

But, there was also a bonus question: “Will Alabama grant legal status to illegal electronic bingo in the state?”

The answer was “no.” The answer to that question seemed to be decided early on. There were multiple attempts by legislators to protect various illegal gambling entities. And oddly, in Jefferson County, the sheriff’s brother even tried to start up new gambling entities, however, that was shut down.

So, what now?

A short synopsis would be “The attorney general is coming!” But Steve Marshall himself rejected that premise in an interview on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” Thursday morning.

Marshall explained that he was already working on this form of gambling.

Leaving nothing to chance, when asked if these electronic bingo machines were illegal, he responded, “Absolutely.“

He also believes he and his office are already working on these issues.

“We are going to pursue the remedies that we have right now,” Marshall revealed.

If that course does not produce the desired result, the attorney general is prepared to move.

“We will investigate just like we would the situation in Birmingham, prepare search warrants as they come and then be able to take action from there,” he stated.

So whether Marshall likes the framing or not, he’s is preparing to shut down illegal gambling in this state.

This could take the form of a court action or a new version of the bingo raids we saw during former Governor Bob Riley’s time in office. Either way, the attorney general is coming.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN