Medal of Honor: Staff Sergeant Travis W. Atkins – Operation: Iraqi Freedom

Staff Sergeant Travis Atkins








Dec. 9, 1975


Bozeman, Montana

Enlistment Date:

Nov. 9, 2000

Military Occupation:

Infantryman (11b)


2nd Platoon, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division


Operation Iraqi Freedom










Then-Pvt. Travis Atkins graduates from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Ga., 2001. (Photo courtesy of the Atkins family)

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.








Then-Sgt. Travis Atkins’ parents, Jack and Elaine, visit their son at Fort Drum, N.Y., in 2006. (Photo courtesy of the Atkins family)

Then-Sgt. Travis Atkins poses with battle buddies in Iraq, 2007. (Photo courtesy of the Atkins family)

“He loved the Army, and he loved being with his troops.”

Elaine Atkins, mother of Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins

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.

The Battle

June 1, 2007 | Abu Samak, Iraq

“Travis knew the reality of serving in Iraq. He knew the danger.”

Jack Atkins, father of Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins

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.

Soldiers kneel to pay their respects to Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins, who was killed, June 1, 2007, by a suicide bomber near Sadr Al-Yusufiyah, Iraq, at a memorial ceremony held, June 7, 2007 at Camp Striker. Atkins was on a patrol with his unit, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) from Fort Drum, N.Y., when they detained men who were wearing suicide vests. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Chris McCann)

Then-Sgt. Travis Atkins (second from right) poses with battle buddies in Iraq, 2007. (Photo courtesy of the Atkins family)

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