Senator Steve Daines on Montanan’s Medal of Honor Ceremony
Wednesday at the White House, President Donald Trump awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Travis Atkins, who heroically gave his life in 2007 by tackling a man with a suicide vest, saving three fellow soldiers.
Attending the event were members of Montana’s Congressional Delegation, including Senator Steve Daines, who spoke about the experience on KGVO Radio early Thursday morning.
“This is very personal,” said Daines. “Travis Atkins was a Bozeman kid. We both attended Bozeman High and the connection there is very personal. Jack and Elaine Atkins, Travis’ parents were seated just to my right at the ceremony. In fact, Elaine Atkins was in a Bible study group with my wife during the time when Travis was tragically killed in Iraq. There was no greater act of selflessness than what he did.”
The three soldiers who were saved were also at the ceremony.
“Those three men were there and the President asked them to stand, so it was a moment with a deeply personal connection, but it rose to this national stage,” he said. “I couldn’t have been more proud of Trevor Atkins, Travis’s son, who was only 11 years old when his father was killed. He received that Medal of Honor from the President.”
Daines described another personal connection at the ceremony.
“My Director of Veterans Affairs in Montana, Denny Lenoir for the past seven years was the Director of Military Funeral Honors,” she said. “Denny was the very first to receive Travis’ body when he was flown back to Montana. When the funeral ended, in typical military funeral tradition, Denny stayed as guard until every other person had left and he was the last one to leave Travis’ side.”
Daines said Travis Atkins’ name will live on in Montana.
“We’re very excited to get this VA facility in Bozeman named after Travis Atkins,” he said. “I have a bill that I introduced on the Senate side and Gianforte will introduce it in the House. We want to get that through committee to the President’s desk so that Travis Atkins’ name will forever be remembered in his home town of Bozeman for his bravery and his sacrifice.”
At the White House ceremony on Wednesday, Atkins’ son Trevor accepted the award from the President.