CIRCLEVILLE, OH, US
SPC, CO A, 1ST BDE SPECIAL TROOPS BN, 1ST BDE COMBAT TEAM, FORT CAMPBELL, KY
10/20/2010, MAQUAN, AFGHANISTAN
SPC Jenkins was just 17 when he enlisted in the United States Army in October 2008 after earning his high school equivalency certificate. He had persuaded his father to let him sign up. Gerald arrived at Fort Campbell, KY in March 2009. It turned out that military service was a good fit for SPC Jenkins.
At 19, however, Gerald was KIA in Afghanistan and is remembered by his father, Roger D. Jenkins, as “an honorable young man” who planned to be a career soldier.
SPC Jenkins was a person who thought of others before he thought of himself, said his father, who imagined what his son’s final moments might have been like. “I just know if he was still coherent when this bomb went off, what was going through his mind was what this was going to do to me.” Mr. Jenkins knew that his son would be concerned for his father. “He worried more about other people than about himself.”
“I just told him, ‘Don’t be a hero. Just come back home.’ He’s like, ‘Dad, they trained us well and I’ll be alright.’ He promised me and his mother that he was going to come home.”
Seeing a depressed economy with jobs in the Circleville, OH area scarce , Gerald saw what he didn’t want, his father explained. What he wanted was the Army, where he hoped to make the rank of sergeant eventually.
Mr. Jenkins home schooled his son and talked about their relationship, “Me and him have been together the last 11 years on our own.” Mr. Jenkins resisted giving Gerald permission to join the Army at 17: “I wasn’t ready to let him go.” But he relented when his son begged him.
Gerald Jenkins thrived in the Army. He had been in Afghanistan for only five or six weeks, when Gerald called home and said he had rejoined the Army for six more years. SPC Jenkins was a combat engineer.
“Bub,” as his parents called him, picked up a new nickname among his Army buddies. They called him “Leroy” Jenkins, after the evangelist, according to his father.