Thank you for your service, thank you for your sacrifice
The son of an Army staff sergeant who threw himself on a suicide bomber in Iraq to save the lives of three fellow soldiers accepted, on behalf of the dad he lost at age 11, our country’s highest military honor Tuesday.
President Donald Trump posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Army Staff Sgt. Travis W. Atkins, for actions above and beyond the call of duty in Iraq in 2007.
Trevor Atkins, now 22, accepted the medal at a White House ceremony that not only included family members but 50 members of his father’s old unit, including the men whose lives he saved – then-Pfc. Michael Kistel, Spc. Travis Robertshaw and Spc. Sand Aijo.
According to the Department of Defense, Staff Sgt. Atkins was leading his patrol outside of Bagdad when they stopped to question two men. Staff Sgt. Atkins realized one of them was wearing an explosive-equipped vest and, as the man pulled the pin, bear-hugged him, brought him to the ground and held him there, shielding the soldiers nearby with his own body.
Staff Sgt. Atkins died instantly.
It was his second tour of duty.
He was 31.
“He rose to the highest calling,” President Trump told those attending the ceremony. “He laid down his life to save the lives of his fellow warriors.”
We thank Staff Sgt. Atkins for his sacrifice, and for his service, and we thank President Trump for honoring both.
We’d also like to take a moment to remember the many sacrifices, both small and supreme, made by our military personnel, and their families, on a regular basis.
For this, too, is something Staff Sgt. Atkins died for as he shielded those under his command.
Military families continue to live with a reality that the rest of us are allowed to forget: The fight continues.
The names of the U.S. “operations” in Iraq and Afghanistan have changed since Staff Sgt. Atkins gave his life for his men and his country.
The loss of military personnel has thankfully lessened.
But there are those here at home who still wait for a word from a loved one deployed, who still fear that knock at the door.
Two soldiers died in combat operations in Afghanistan last week as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
They were Spc. Joseph P. Collette, 29, of Lancaster, Ohio, and Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay, 33, of Cortez, Colorado. Both had deployed out of Fort Carson.
Two others died this month supporting Operation Inherent Resolve in Kuwait. They were Sgt. Holli R. Bolinski, 37, of Pinckneyville, Illinois, and Spc. Jackson D. Johnson, 20, of Hillsboro, Missouri. Both were deployed with a transportation battalion home-based in Mount Vernon, Illinois.
We thank them, too, for their service and their sacrifice as we thank all before them in the continuing Global War Against Terrorism: The 32,329 military personnel who have given their lives Iraq, the 20,473 who have died serving in Afghanistan.
No one knows more than a military family that freedom isn’t free.
Let us not forget that.
– Eagle editorial