Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army

Thomas Eugene "gene" Atkins

  • Rank: Private First Class
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    Company A, 127th Infantry,
    32d Infantry Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: March 10, 1945
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Villa Verde Trail, Luzon, Philippine Islands

He fought gallantly on the Villa Verde Trail, Luzon, Philippine Islands. With two companions he occupied a position on a ridge outside the perimeter defense established by the 1st Platoon on a high hill. At about 0300 hours, two companies of Japanese attacked with rifle and machine-gun fire, grenades, TNT charges and land mines, severely wounding Pfc. Atkins and killing his two companions. Despite the intense hostile fire and pain from his deep wound, he held his ground and returned heavy fire. After the attack was repulsed, he remained in his precarious position to repel any subsequent assaults instead of returning to the American lines for medical treatment. An enemy machine gun, set up within 20 yards of his foxhole, vainly attempted to drive him off or silence his gun. The Japanese repeatedly made fierce attacks, but for four hours Pfc. Atkins determinedly remained in his foxhole, bearing the brunt of each assault and maintaining steady and accurate fire until each charge was repulsed. At 7:00 A.M., 13 enemy dead lay in front of his position; he had fired 400 rounds, all he and his two dead companions possessed, and had used three rifles until each had jammed too badly for further operation. He withdrew during a lull to secure a rifle and more ammunition, and was persuaded to remain for medical treatment. While waiting, he saw a Japanese within the perimeter and, seizing a nearby rifle, killed him. A few minutes later, while lying on a litter, he discovered an enemy group moving up behind the platoon's lines. Despite his severe wounds he sat up, delivered heavy rifle fire against the group, and forced them to withdraw. Pfc. Atkins' superb bravery and his fearless determination to hold his post against the main force of repeated enemy attacks, even though painfully wounded, were major factors in enabling his comrades to maintain their lines against a numerically superior enemy force.

Medal of Honor Recipient Thomas Eugene "gene" Atkins
Medal of Honor Recipient Thomas Eugene "gene" Atkins
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Campobello, Spartanburg County, South Carolina
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: October 12, 1945

    The White House, presented by Pres. Harry S. Truman

  • Born: February 5, 1921, Campobello, Spartanburg County, SC, United States
  • Died: September 15, 1999, Inman, SC, United States
  • Buried: Fellowship Baptist Church Cemetery (MH), Inman, SC, United States

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