A Bozeman man who sacrificed himself to save three fellow soldiers from an Iraqi suicide bomber was posthumously awarded the nation’s highest military honor Wednesday.
On the morning of June 1st, 2007 Army Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins and his three-man squad intercepted two suspected terrorists outside Baghdad, Iraq.
As President Donald Trump said during Atkins’ Medal of Honor ceremony Wednesday, "Nothing good was going to happen that day and they all knew it." One of the Iraqi men Atkins was searching resisted and then became violent.
“Travis engaged him in hand-to-hand combat. As Travis wrestled to get the enemy’s hands behind his back, the man began to reach for something – and Travis knew what it was. He realized the man was wearing a suicide vest.”
In the split second before the Iraqi detonated his explosives.
“Travis wrapped his arms and his entire body around him and threw him to the ground away from his troops who were right next to him. He put himself on the top of the enemy and he shielded his men from certain death.”
Staff Sgt. Atkins, however, was killed instantly.
Trump Wednesday presented Atkins’ family with the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony. That’s America’s highest military award for bravery against an enemy.
Atkins’s son Trevor was 11 when his dad was killed. He accepted the award on his behalf.
“It’s an absolute honor to have every single one of you here," Atkins says. "It’s something that I can’t really put into words. It’s something that’s surreal. And I still haven’t fully accepted it yet. So all over appreciation for his men; everything you have said to me over the last few days has meant the world to me and changes my life every, every day.”
Wednesday’s ceremony was the eighth time Trump has presented the award.