Iraq war soldier, California man honored for heroic actions

Covering Washington

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — This week, President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to the family of an Iraq war hero whose bravery is credited with saving the lives of other soldiers.

Staff Sergeant Travis Atkins was killed in 2007 after he wrestled a suicide vest-wearing insurgent to the ground. Atkins used his body to smother the vest as it exploded. The 31-year-old was killed immediately, but his actions saved the lives of three fellow soldiers nearby.

Atkins became the fifth U.S. service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for Heroism during the Iraq war.

A civilian’s heroic actions were also rewarded this week. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society honored a California man for stepping in to stop a violent machete attack at a Starbucks.

Blaine Hodge stopped the violent attack in September. A man armed with a machete was attacking a woman at a Bakersfield, California Starbucks. Hodge likely saved her life.

For his actions, Hodge was awarded one of the nation’s highest civilian honors.

“To be honest, I’m still shocked,” he said.

Hodge ended up taking blows from the machete and suffered severe stab wounds to his arms, hands, legs and torso.

“It probably wasn’t a good idea to go in barehanded,” Hodge said. “It was a small price to pay.”

Hodge wound up with more than 200 stitches and is still undergoing treatment.

“People say ‘you’re so courageous and you’re so brave,’ but it’s like when you move on compassion, you just go,” he said.

Hodge said he appreciates being honored and he enjoyed traveling to the nation’s capital for the ceremonies but if there’s one thing people remember about his story, he wants it to be this message:

“I think it’s not about the heroics — and don’t get me wrong, I’m really grateful for all the compliments and positive energy people are pushing my way,” he said. “But the biggest thing here is you cannot ignore domestic violence. You can’t.

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