Watkins, Travis E. [MSgt H9thIR]





M/Sgt. Watkins distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. When an overwhelming enemy force broke through and isolated 30 men of his unit, he took command, established a perimeter defense and directed action which repelled continuous, fanatical enemy assaults. With his group completely surrounded and cut off, he moved from foxhole to foxhole exposing himself to enemy fire, giving instructions and offering encouragement to his men. Later when the need for ammunition and grenades became critical he shot 2 enemy soldiers 50 yards outside the perimeter and went out alone for their ammunition and weapons. As he picked up their weapons he was attacked by 3 others and wounded. Returning their fire he killed all 3 and gathering up the weapons of the 5 enemy dead returned to his amazed comrades. During a later assault, 6 enemy soldiers gained a defiladed spot and began to throw grenades into the perimeter making it untenable. Realizing the desperate situation and disregarding his wound he rose from his foxhole to engage them with rifle fire. Although immediately hit by a burst from an enemy machine gun he continued to fire until he had killed the grenade throwers. With this threat eliminated he collapsed and despite being paralyzed from the waist down, encouraged his men to hold on. He refused all food, saving it for his comrades, and when it became apparent that help would not arrive in time to hold the position ordered his men to escape to friendly lines. Refusing evacuation as his hopeless condition would burden his comrades, he remained in his position and cheerfully wished them luck. Through his aggressive leadership and intrepid actions, this small force destroyed nearly 500 of the enemy before abandoning their position. M/Sgt. Watkins' sustained personal bravery and noble self-sacrifice reflect the highest glory upon himself and is in keeping with the esteemed traditions of the U.S. Army.[3]




About 0900 MSgt. Travis E. Watkins of H Company shot and killed two enemy soldiers 50 yards outside the northeast edge of the perimeter. He jumped from his hole to get the weapons and grenades of the dead men; 20 yards from them three hidden enemy soldiers jumped to their feet and opened fire on him. Watkins killed them and gathered weapons, ammunition, and insignia from all five before returning to the perimeter. An hour later a group of six enemy soldiers gained a protected spot 25 yards from a machine gun position of the perimeter and began throwing hand grenades into it. Although already wounded in the head, Watkins rose from his hole to engage them with rifle fire. An enemy machine gun immediately took him under fire and hit him in the left side, breaking his back. Watkins in some manner managed to kill all six of the nearby enemy soldiers before he sank into his hole paralyzed from the waist down. Even in this condition, Watkins never lost his nerve, but shouted encouragement to his companions. He refused any of the scarce rations, saying that he did not deserve them because he could no longer fight. [24-3]


At 2200, Lt McDoniel and Lt Caldwell  and twenty-seven enlisted men slipped off the hill  [Hill 209] in groups of four. One poignant scene etched itself on the minds of Sergeant Watkins' comrades. Watkins, still alive in his paralyzed condition, refused efforts of evacuation, saying that he did not want to be a burden to those who had a chance to get away. He asked only that his carbine be loaded and placed on his chest with the muzzle under his chin. He smiled a last farewell to his buddies and wished them well when they started off the hill. [24-7]