A week ago Friday, we attended a Veteran’s Day ceremony which included an award presentation. The Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) was posthumously awarded to SSG Travis Atkins of 2-14 IN. The award was graciously accepted by his parents and his 12 year old son, Trevor. The DSC is the second highest military award and SSG Atkins earned it on 1 June 2007 when he sacrificed himself by engaging in hand-to-hand combat with a suicide bomber and , in doing so, he saved the lives of his squad members.
I met his parents earlier this year, during Memorial Day weekend, when they were here for a Poker Ride in honor of their son. When FM mentioned SSG Atkins had been awarded the DSC, I told him I thought SSG Atkins’ father would want to have the ceremony here amongst the soldiers his son served with. FM then explained to me the award is usually presented by a Four Star General and sometimes by the President. It’s usually presented at a ceremony at the Pentagon or in the hometown of the soldier.
Turns out, the family chose to accept the award here so the soldiers who served with their son could be present. They also requested the One Star General who attended their son’s funeral. I was so glad they chose to come here because I got a chance to meet Trevor, SSG Atkins’ 12 year old son. He is the most poised 12 year old I’ve ever met. We hosted a dinner for the family and the soldiers who knew SSG Atkins the night before the ceremony and I was very impressed with Trevor. He’s socially comfortable with adults, has a great sense of humor and he carried on detailed conversations with the soldiers.
The next day, at the ceremony, Trevor was seated in front of me and held his head high as they spoke in detail about how his dad earned such an honor. I was moved to tears when I saw he kept looking over and checking on his grandfather to make sure he was OK.
At the ceremony, his mom said she was glad they chose to have the ceremony at Ft. Drum since when they’re here, they feel closer to their son . She said she kept expecting him to come walking around the corner.