The Senate Armed Service Committee has approved legislation to waive time limits and allow President Obama to award the Medal of Honor to two soldiers who served in the Vietnam War.
The Senate committee action followed on a similar move last year by the House to authorize and request the President to award the Medal of Honor to Bennie G. Adkins and Donald P. Sloat, both of Oklahoma.
The SASC measure passed earlier this week as part of the National Defense Authorization Act would waive the three-year time limit under the U.S. Code from the date of the action justifying the possible award of the MoH to Sloat, and for the upgrade of a Distinguished Service Cross to an MoH in the case of Adkins.
Sloat, of Coweta, Okla., was awarded the DSC for his actions on Jan. 17, 1970 in Quang Tin province while serving with the Army's 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 196th Infantry Brigade of the Americal Division. Sloat was killed when he covered a booby-trap grenade with his body to save the lives of others in his unit.
Adkins, 79, of Waurika, Okla., received his DSC for actions from March 9-12, 1966, while serving as a sergeant first class with Army Special Forces Detachment A-102 in Vietnam's A Shau valley, about 30 miles southwest of Hue City, which was a key infiltration route for North Vietnamese forces into South Vietnam.
Adkins was wounded while rushing through enemy fire to man a mortar pit as Viet Cong forces attempted to overrun his unit's position. Though wounded, he ran through enemy fire again to drag wounded comrades to safety.
"During the evacuation of a seriously wounded American, Adkins maneuvered outside the camp walls to draw fire and successfully covered the rescue," the DSC citation said.
The next day, the enemy launched the main attack and "although wounded with most of his team killed or wounded, he (Adkins) fought off the waves of attacking Viet Cong," the citation said.
"Adkins and the small group of remaining soldiers were ordered to evacuate the camp. Although they were running low on ammunition, they fought their way out of the camp and evaded the Viet Cong for two days until they were rescued," the citation said.
Adkins was drafted into the Army in 1956, served a total of 13 years with the Special Forces and retired as a Command Sergeant Major in 1978. He served three tours in Vietnam and his other awards include the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and the Purple Hear with four Oak Leaf Clusters.