Thomas Eugene “Gene” Atkins MOH

b. 05/02/1921 Campobello, South Carolina. d. 15/09/1999 Inman, South Carolina.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 10/03/1945 Luzon, Philippines.

Thomas E “Gene” Atkins MOH

“Gene” as he was more commonly known, was born and raised in Campobello, South Carolina. Little is known about his early life, until the outbreak of World War II changed his life. In December 1942, at the age of 21, he enlisted, and following his recruit and combat training, he was assigned to the Pacific Theater of Operations where he served in the Philippines Campaign. He became a Private First Class, and it was in this capacity that he would be awarded the Medal of Honor of his actions on 10th March 1945 on the island of Luzon. On that day, he repulsed a Japanese attack on his unit, despite being severely wounded and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courage and gallantry. He was also awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

He was presented with his Medal of Honor on 12th October 1945 at The White House by President Harry S Truman. Shortly afterwards, he left the army and returned to his native South Carolina. He married Vivian and they would have four sons and a daughter. He and Vivian ran a farm near Inman, South Carolina. Gene passed away from congestive heart failure on 15th September 1999 aged 78.



He fought gallantly on the Villa Verde Trail, Luzon, Philippine Islands. With 2 companions he occupied a position on a ridge outside the perimeter defense established by the 1st Platoon on a high hill. At about 3 a.m., 2 companies of Japanese attacked with rifle and machinegun fire, grenades, TNT charges, and land mines, severely wounding Pfc. Atkins and killing his 2 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 machinegun, 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 4 hours, Pfc. Atkins determinedly remained in his fox hole, bearing the brunt of each assault and maintaining steady and accurate fire until each charge was repulsed. At 7 a.m., 13 enemy dead lay in front of his position; he had fired 400 rounds, all he and his 2 dead companions possessed, and had used 3 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 wound, he sat up, delivered heavy rifle fire against the group and forced them to withdraw.