Soldiers pay their respects in front of the memorial display for Specialist Gerald Jenkins at Forward Operating Base Wilson in Kandahar Provence, Afghanistan. Jenkins died October 25th when he stepped on a roadside bomb during a clearing operation in Makuan. He was 19.
It happens almost every day. An American dies fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. Sometimes they just become numbers, statistics to everyone but their family to whom their death is the end of the world.
NPR's Tom Bowman decided to remember one of the fallen. He's in Afghanistan. The other day he attended the memorial service for Specialist Gerald Jenkins. Jenkins served with the 101st airborne. He was a combat engineer, clearing bombs from roads near Kandahar.
Last week he was walking along a dry riverbed. It had been cleared. But they missed one. "And that's when he stepped on the IED and it went off. All I can remember getting is tossed by the blast," said Private First Class Joel Moscozo. Jenkins was his team leader. "It's hard. He was everything to me. I'll never forget him."
Moscozo and more than a hundred fellow soldiers gathered the other day at a gravel parking area, rimmed by armored vehicles and tents. Off to one side was a large portrait of Jenkins, a lean teenager with dark hair and glasses. His friends remember how he followed Ohio State football, played X-box and liked to listen to oldies. They reminded him of home, when his mother would drive around with the radio blaring, Nazareth and Pink Floyd.
One by one, Jenkins' chain of command rose to speak. The last was Sergeant Joseph Turner.
So we will carry on with the oldies songs in the truck. We will always laugh at remembering your sarcasm. Second Timothy chapter 3 verse 7- I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race I have kept the faith. I will never forget. I will always miss my comrade, my soldier, my friend and my brother.
Jenkins was scheduled to go on leave November first to visit his mother in Ohio.
You can listen to the story here.