"I believe in my country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with my God," George Petrie once said.
Adkins has returned home to the Loveliest Village after receiving the Medal of Honor last week in Washington, D.C. and is already set to share his experience and knowledge with upcoming graduates.
Adkins is scheduled to speak about leadership at a public forum Thursday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. in 125 Lowder Hall.
Leadership is something Adkins is no stranger to. He served three tours in Vietnam and was recognized for his actions during 38 hours of close-combat fighting against enemy forces at Camp A Shau while he was an Intelligence Sergeant. He sustained 18 wounds during battle and killed an estimated 135-175 enemy soldiers.
(Photo right: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel presents Adkins with Medal of Honor flag. Photo from defense.gov.)
"If you listen to him he will tell you he was doing his job and didn't think of himself," Maggie Lawrence, news unit manager at the Alabama Extension, said. Lawrence attended the Medal of Honor ceremony with husband Johnny Lawrence, an Auburn alumnus and close friend of Adkins.
She adds that Adkins' speech is one that is sure to impress. "He has a lot of insights into how people respond to different situations and how a lot of times we are confronted with situations that require a leader," Lawrence said. "I think particularly college students need to hear that there is a leader in them."
After retiring from the Army in 1978, Adkins earned a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees from Troy State University. He then served as CEO of Adkins Accounting Service Inc. for 22 years and taught classes at Southern Union Junior College for 10 years and Auburn University for six years.
Although Adkins never attended Auburn for school, he is an Auburn man.
Johnny Lawrence agrees that Adkins epitomizes the Auburn Creed and what every Auburn man and woman should stand for. "Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins is a force of nature and lives it each and every day through his humble actions and devotion to his family, friends, country and fellow warriors. His warrior spirit and leadership, not only in combat, but also in day-to-day life, are truly examples we should strive for," Lawrence said.
Adkins' humble character is admirable because he always remembers who he fought beside. "When he talks about his experiences, he talks about the people who were there with him," Mrs. Lawrence said. "He is faintly uncomfortable when talking about about what he did."
(Photo above: Adkins with wife Mary in middle, joined by men who fought beside him at Camp A Shau.)
"I am honored and privileged to know Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins. His honor, integrity, humility and patriotism are a constant inspiration to me and my family," Mr. Lawrence said. "Bennie, thank you for being my friend."
More photos of Adkins at the Medal of Honor ceremony can be viewed here.
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