While manning a static observation post in the town of Abu Samak, Iraq, Staff Sergeant Atkins, was notified that four suspicious individuals, walking in two pairs, were crossing an intersection not far from his position. Staff Sergeant Atkins immediately moved his squad to interdict the individuals. One of the individuals began behaving erratically, prompting Staff Sergeant Atkins to disembark from his patrol vehicle and approach to conduct a search. Both individuals responded belligerently toward Staff Sergeant Atkins, who then engaged the individual he had intended to search in hand-to-hand combat. Staff Sergeant Atkins tried to wrestle the insurgent’s arms behind his back. When he noticed the insurgent was reaching for something under his clothes, Staff Sergeant Atkins immediately wrapped him in a bear hug and threw him to the ground, away from his fellow soldiers. Staff Sergeant Atkins maintained his hold on the insurgent, placing his body on top of him, further sheltering his patrol. With Staff Sergeant Atkins on top of him, the insurgent detonated a bomb strapped to his body, killing Staff Sergeant Atkins. Staff Sergeant Atkins acted with complete disregard for his own safety. In this critical and selfless act of valor, Staff Sergeant Atkins saved the lives of the three other soldiers who were with him and gallantly gave his life for his country. Staff Sergeant Atkins' undaunted courage, warrior spirit, and steadfast devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 2d Brigade Combat Team, and the United States Army.
At the White House to his son, Trevor Oliver, by President Donald J. Trump