Coronado’s “Avenue Of The Heroes” ... CWO Solomon Atkinson, USN - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

Coronado’s “Avenue Of The Heroes” ... CWO Solomon Atkinson, USN

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Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2019 5:02 pm

Solomon “Sol” Atkinson was born to Harris and Elizabeth Atkinson in 1930 in Metlakatla, Alaska, which is situated on Annette Island on the Inside Passage.

Atkinson chose to leave life as an Alaskan commercial fisherman to embark on what would become a 22 year military career. Within two years of enlisting in the U.S. Navy, he volunteered for the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT), the famed Frogmen of World War II, and deployed to Korea and the Pacific. In January 1962, in response to a directive from President Kennedy, the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams were commissioned, drawing on volunteers from the UDTs. Among the first to volunteer, Atkinson became one of the first Navy SEALs, a plank owner of SEAL Team One, and the first Alaska Native/Native American SEAL.

Atkinson was known amongst his teammates as “the Mean Machine,” an appellation of affection and great respect. He completed three combat tours to Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star for valor and the Purple Heart. In addition to his combat tours and other deployments, Atkinson had the distinction of training dozens of U.S. astronauts, include Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Jim Lovell. to contend with the microgravity they would experience in space; the training was accomplished via underwater weightlessness simulation.

In a written tribute, fellow SEALs said of him: “Sol’s story will continue to be told by the men he trained, by the officers who relied on him, by the Frogmen who all respect him. An officer, a gentleman, an athlete, a friend, Sol Atkinson is all of these; but of all these traits, he is first a Frogman.”

Atkinson retired from the Navy after serving with Underwater Demolition Teams Three, Twelve, and Twenty-One and SEAL Teams One and Two. Returning home to Alaska, he continued to serve his people, his state, and the nation as mayor of Metlakatla, on the Indian Community Council and Board of Education, and as a founder and president of the first Veterans organization on the island. While mayor, he played a principal role in the Department of Defense Innovative Readiness training program. Atkinson was one of Alaska’s most vocal Veterans advocates, leading delegation teams to lobby in Washington D.C., and before the Alaska State Legislature. As Senator Dan Sullivan elocuted on the floor of the U.S. Senate, words later entered in the Congressional Record, Atkinson “… spent decades reaching out to his fellow veterans to make sure they receive the benefits, honor, and dignity they earned.” Atkinson continues to serve as an Officer in the Alaska State Defense Force.

In recognition of his life of Service, Atkinson received the Alaska Governor’s Veterans Advocacy Award, humbly accepting it with the words “everything I do is for my people, not myself.” Veteran, SEAL, veterans advocate, patriot… Atkinson has and continues to serve his nation with unsurpassed distinction.

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