Larry Adkinson was born on November 19, 1940, in New York. He entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Navy on June 6, 1962, and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Marine Corps and designated a Naval Aviator on December 28, 1963. Lt Adkinson next completed A-4 Skyhawk training with VMT-3 at MCAS El Toro, California, in February 1964, followed by service as an A-4E pilot with VMA-211 at MCAS El Toro from March 1964 to December 1965. He deployed to Southeast Asia with VMA-211 in October 1965, and transferred to VMA-224 at Chu Lai, South Vietnam, in December 1965, serving there until returning to the United States in May 1966. His next assignment was as a T-1A SeaStar pilot with the 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) at MCAS Kaneohe, Hawaii, from July 1966 to August 1967, and then as an F-8 Crusader pilot with VMF-212 at MCAS Kaneohe from September 1967 to June 1968. Capt Adkinson attended A-4 refresher training from July to August 1968, and then served as an A-4E pilot with VMA-211 at Chu Lai, South Vietnam, from September 1968 to February 1969, and as a TA-4F Fast FAC pilot with H&MS-11 at DaNang AB, South Vietnam, from February to October 1969. During this time, he flew 5 combat missions in F-100F Super Sabres with the U.S. Air Force Misty Fast FACS. His next assignment was as an A-4E/M pilot with VMA-331 and as a TA-4F pilot with H&MS-31 at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, from November 1969 to May 1972, followed by Light Attack Weapons School at NAS Lemoore, California, from February to June 1972. Maj Adkinson served as an F-8K pilot and as Operations Officer with Marine Air Reserve Training Detachment Atlanta, Georgia, from June 1972 to May 1975, and then as at TA-4F and OA-4F/M pilot with MWSG-17 at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, from June 1975 to July 1976. He attended Air University at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from August 1976 to May 1977, and was a Leadership Instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy from July 1977 to August 1980. LtCol Adkinson next served as an OA-4M pilot and on the staff of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, from September 1980 to June 1981, followed by service as an A-4M pilot and Commanding Officer of VMA-331 at MCAS Cherry Point from July 1981 to February 1983. Col Adkinson then served with Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps at the Pentagon from March 1983 to August 1986, first with the Command Center and Operations Section in Plans, Policies, and Operations; and then in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations as Senior Military Requirements Officer in the Strike and Amphibious Warfare Division. His final assignment was as Chief of the Firepower Division with the Marine Corps Development Center at MCS Quantico, Virginia, from August 1986 until his retirement from the Marine Corps on September 1, 1988. During his aviation career, Col Adkinson amassed over 5,100 flying hours and flew 681 combat missions during the Vietnam War.
His Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight while serving as an Attack Pilot with Marine Attack Squadron 224, Marine Aircraft Group Twelve, in action against insurgent communist (Viet Cong) forces in the Republic of Vietnam. On 9 January 1966, First Lieutenant ADKINSON exhibited extraordinary skill as an aviator and section leader during a strike against a Viet Cong concentration of antiaircraft gun emplacements. Fully realizing that previous flights over the assigned targets had met intense and accurate enemy fire, First Lieutenant ADKINSON joined the attack with superior precision, maneuvering his aircraft with cunning and skill to avoid the heavy flak. Although nearing a minimum fuel state and aware that his prone aircraft was highly vulnerable to the enemy fire, First Lieutenant ADKINSON requested permission to make a final run to deliver his two remaining bombs on the target. With tracers streaming and flak burst trailing his aircraft, First Lieutenant ADKINSON daringly dove through the enemy defenses to score a direct hit on the enemy site, completely destroying two antiaircraft guns. First Lieutenant ADKINSON's intrepid aeronautical skill and unfaltering dedication to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.