b. 09/12/1975 Great Falls, Montana. d. 01/06/2007 Abu Samak, Iraq.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 01/06/2007 Abu Samak, Iraq.
Travis W. Atkins was born on Dec. 9, 1975, in Great Falls, Montana. He moved with his parents, Jack and Elaine, to Bozeman, Montana, in 1981. Growing up, Atkins was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to hunt, fish, snowmobile and camp.
Prior to enlisting, Atkins worked for concrete and painting contractors, and as a small-engine mechanic, but his athletic nature and desire to serve ultimately led him to the U.S. Army. Atkins enlisted on Nov. 9, 2000, and attended basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was assigned to Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and deployed with the 101st to Kuwait in early March 2003. Atkins participated in the invasion of Iraq later that month as an infantry fire team leader.
Atkins was honorably discharged from the Army in December 2003. Back home, Atkins attended the University of Montana in Missoula and worked as a painting and concrete contractor. Two years later, Atkins once again answered the call to serve. He reenlisted in the U.S. Army in December 2005 and was reassigned to Delta Company in the same battalion and deployed to Iraq again in August 2006. He was killed in action on June 1, 2007.
Atkins’ Army awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal with four Bronze Service Stars, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Valorous Unit Award with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Air Assault Badge. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, with the award presented to his family by President Trump on 27th March 2019.
On the morning of June 1, 2007, Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins’ squad was conducting route security in the town of Abu Samak, Iraq, when his team observed two suspected insurgents attempting to cross the route they were securing. After one of Atkins’ teammates yelled at the two insurgents to stop, they began acting very erratically, acknowledging commands but also appearing as if they might attempt to flee.
Atkins led his vehicle to the suspected insurgents and dismounted with his platoon medic in an attempt to interdict and search them. As he reached them, one of the insurgents began to resist the search and hand-to-hand combat ensued. Realizing the insurgent had explosives under his clothes, Atkins heroically fought the insurgent, keeping him from reaching the suicide vest he was wearing. As the hand-to-hand battle continued, the insurgent was able to reach the suicide vest under his clothing. At that point, Atkins wrapped the insurgent up and threw him to the ground, away from his Soldiers who were standing a few feet away.
Aware of the imminent danger, Atkins threw himself on top of the suicide bomber, pinning him to the ground and shielding his Soldiers from the imminent explosion while bearing the brunt of the blast as the bomb detonated. In this critical and selfless act of valor, which mortally wounded him, Atkins saved the lives of three other Soldiers who were with him.
BURIAL LOCATION: SUNSET HILLS CEMETERY, BOZEMAN, MONTANA.
Veterans Section, Block 129, Lot 100