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Two Vietnam Vets Honored, Receive Medal of Honor Decades Later

Image: Two Vietnam Vets Honored, Receive Medal of Honor Decades Later
William Sloat, of Enid, Oklahoma, accepts the Medal of Honor on his brothers behalf, from U.S. President Barack Obama during an East Room ceremony at the White House September in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 15 Sep 2014 06:17 PM

Two Vietnam War veterans received the Medal of Honor on Monday for their heroic actions protecting their fellow soldiers during a conflict that ended a half a century ago.

Army Spec. Donald P. Sloat died from the injuries he received during the war; Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins was at the ceremony to receive his medal.

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“Normally, this medal must be awarded within a few years of the action. But sometimes even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the fog of war or the passage of time,” President Barack Obama said.

Sloat was on patrol with other soldiers when a grenade rolled right to his feet, Obama said. He could have run or ducked, but he didn’t.

“Don did something truly extraordinary — he reached down and he picked that grenade up,” Obama said. “And he turned to throw it, but there were Americans in front of him and behind him — inside the kill zone. So Don held on to that grenade, and he pulled it close to his body. And he bent over it. And then, as one of the men said, ‘All of a sudden there was a boom.’”

Adkins, who was present at the ceremony, was honored for his heroism during his second tour in Vietnam at age 32. A North Vietnamese force attacked, trapping Adkins and his fellow soldiers.

“Bennie ran into enemy fire again and again — to retrieve supplies and ammo; to carry the wounded to safety; to man the mortar pit, holding off wave after wave of enemy assaults,” Obama told those gathered. “Three times, explosions blasted him out of that mortar pit, and three times, he returned. I have to be honest, in a battle and daring escape that lasted four days, Bennie performed so many acts of bravery we actually don’t have time to talk about all of them.”

After medals were given to Adkins and to Sloat’s family, Obama said, “Over the decades, our Vietnam veterans didn’t always receive the thanks and respect they deserved. That’s a fact. But as we have been reminded again today, our Vietnam vets were patriots and are patriots. You served with valor. You made us proud.”

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Two Vietnam War veterans received the Medal of Honor on Monday for their heroic actions protecting their fellow soldiers during a conflict that ended a half a century ago.
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2014-17-15
Monday, 15 Sep 2014 06:17 PM
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