Soldiers From The 101st Remember One Of Their Own

Earlier this week, soldiers in Afghanistan held a memorial service for Specialist Gerald Jenkins. The 19-year-old died earlier this month when he stepped on a roadside bomb.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

It happens almost every day in war: an American is killed in combat. Yet only occasionally do we stop to take notice. Today we will, to remember Specialist Gerald Jenkins who served with 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan.

He was on patrol in a small village barely 10 days ago when he stepped on a roadside bomb. He was just 19 when he died. At a forward operating base in Afghanistan this week, soldiers from the 101st paid their respects to Specialist Jenkins.

NPR's Tom Bowman was at the service and has this report.

TOM BOWMAN: Specialist Jenkins was a sapper, a combat engineer. He was working with other soldiers to clear a path outside the village of Makuan, a one-time Taliban stronghold just west of Kandahar City. Private First Class Joel Moscozo was with Jenkins last week, walking through a dry river bed, which had been cleared by mine detectors and explosive-sniffing dogs.

(Soundbite of a vehicle)

Private First Class JOEL MOSCOZO (United States Army): And that's when he stepped on the IED and it went off. All I can remember was getting tossed by the blast.

BOWMAN: The blast killed Jenkins. He had been Private First Class Moscozo's team leader.

(Soundbite of music)

PFC. MOSCOZO: It's hard, you know, because he was everything, like a brother. He was always there for me. And he wasn't scared of anything and that's something I really appreciated of him. I'll never forget him.

Unidentified Man #1: We gather this afternoon to remember the life of Specialist Gerald Robert Jenkins. Please arise for the...

BOWMAN: Moscozo and more than a hundred fellow soldiers gathered 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 XBox and liked to listen to oldies. Next to the portrait was what the military calls a memorial display: The carefully arranged helmet, weapon and combat boots of the fallen soldier.

One by one, Jenkins' chain of command, rose to speak. The last was Sergeant Joseph Turner.

Sergeant JOSEPH TURNER (United States Army): 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.

(Soundbite of 21-gun salute)

BOWMAN: Jenkins was scheduled to go on leave November 1st to visit his mother in Ohio.

(Soundbite of song, "Taps")

BOWMAN: Tom Bowman, NPR News, Kandahar.

KELLY: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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