President Trump awarded the Medal of Honor on Wednesday to a U.S. Army staff sergeant killed when he subdued a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2007, saving three members of his unit.
Trump presented the medal –the nation's highest military award for battlefield valor – to the family of Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
"Today the name of Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins will be etched alongside the names of America's greatest warriors," Trump said.
Atkin’s son, Trevor, who was 11 at the time of his father’s death, received the medal for his father alongside other members of his family. Trevor remembered the stories his father told him while he was in the military and said the greatest honor his father could receive was the kind words he's heard from his fellow soldiers.
"The medal is something I take a lot of pride in, but it's those words that I take the most pride in," Atkins said.
Atkins, 31, of Bozeman, Mont., was a member of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, based out of Fort Drum, N.Y., and was on his second tour of duty in Iraq at the time of his death.
Atkins deployed to Iraq in 2003 and was later honorably discharged as a sergeant. He re-enlisted in 2005 after attending the University of Montana and deployed to Iraq again in 2006. He was promoted to staff sergeant in May 2007, a month before he was killed.
On June 1, 2007, Atkins was on patrol with his unit, looking for a captured American soldier in the town of Abu Samak in Iraq’s volatile Anbar Province. The unit stopped a pair of suspected insurgents. Leaving the protected cover of his Humvee, Atkins approached the two men and quickly realized that one was wearing a suicide vest.
While engaged in hand-to-hand combat, Atkins wrestled the insurgent to the ground as he was attempting to detonate the vest. Atkins had the insurgent pinned to the ground and used his body as human shield to protect his fellow soldiers from the blast.
According to the White House, that valorous act saved three members of his unit that day. The three were on hand for Wednesday's ceremony.
Atkins' death came during the bloodiest year for U.S. forces in the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, with a total of 764 service members dying in combat. Of those casualties, 85 percent were from the Army.
The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest award for valor, and has only been awarded to 3,504 men and one woman since it was created during the Civil War.
More than half, since World War II, have been awarded posthumously. The Iraq War is the only conflict in which none of its Medal of Honor recipients – Atkins is the fifth -- survived the act of valor being honored.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and Frank Miles contributed to this report.