Trump awards Medal of Honor to soldier who died shielding troops from Iraqi bomber

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE on Wednesday presented a posthumous Medal of Honor to the family of an Iraq War veteran who died in 2007.

Trump praised the courage and sacrifice of Army Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins, who was killed after he tackled a suspected terrorist attempting to detonate a bomb strapped to his body. Atkins died in an effort to shield his fellow soldiers from the blast.

"We can never measure the depth of our gratitude or the full magnitude of your loss, but we can pay everlasting tribute to Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins and his truly immortal act of valor," Trump told Atkins's family and other guests in the East Room of the White House.


Trump recalled Atkins’s love of the outdoors growing up in Montana and his passion for military service.

Atkins served multiple tours of duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He first enlisted in the Army in 2000, and was deployed in 2003. After he was honorably discharged, he re-enlisted in 2005 and was again deployed to Iraq in August 2006.

On June 1, 2007, Atkins was searching a suspected terrorist when the individual became violent, Trump said. As the two engaged in hand-to-hand combat, Atkins realized the insurgent was wearing a suicide vest.

Atkins tackled the individual as he detonated the bomb and was killed instantly, Trump said.

"In his final moments on Earth, Travis did not run," the president said. "He didn't know what it was to run. He did not hesitate. He rose to the highest calling. He laid down his life to save the lives of his fellow warriors."

Atkins's son, Trevor Oliver, accepted the honor on his father's behalf.

Wednesday's ceremony marked the first time Trump has awarded the Medal of Honor to an Iraq War soldier. He has given seven other individuals the military's highest honor.