TURKEY CREEK – It has been almost 10 years since Jack Jenkins of Turkey Creek learned that his 25-year-old son Troy died in Iraq, and his story has inspired many people since then.
One of the latest groups to issue a formal recognition of his son is the Louisiana Legislature. On November 7, just before Veterans Day, the state House of Representatives passed “An Expression of Commendation” sponsored by Representative Bernard LaBas.
The September 2006 issue of Esquire magazine had a lengthy article based on Jenkins’ account of what happened to his son that begins when the young man was on his way back home from his job on an oil drilling rig in the Gulf. He stopped at a gas station in south Louisiana and got his first glimpse of 9/11, in 2001.
Soon after that, Troy -- who didn’t live in Louisiana but who frequently visited his father at his Turkey Creek home -- enlisted at 17. His father had to co-sign the enlistment papers, giving his permission.
In April 2003, he saw something else on TV he’ll never forget.
According to the Esquire article, he saw a soldier being carried on a stretcher and the TV announcer said the soldier was injured in an explosion.
Jenkins’ first thought was how awful it would be for that soldier’s parents to see that footage.
Then Troy’s wife called Jenkins’ daughter, who told him it really was his son. He learned his son was being transported to Germany for surgery.
Jenkins described in the article being on the job, on an offshore oil rig, when he learned his son died.
The funeral took place in California, where Troy and his wife Amanda lived with their two sons. The funeral was on his oldest son’s birthday, May 5.
It was at the funeral when he met the five soldiers who had been with Troy when he was injured, and who accompanied his body back to California.
According to the Esquire article, “What they said was this black car pulled up, lets three little girls out, and leaves ‘em there. One of the girls had a piece of a cluster bomb in her hand, and she just threw it at the soldiers. It brushed a medic, fell at Troy’s feet, and he jumped on it.”
Troy’s quick action saved his fellow soldiers. One of those attending his son’s funeral -- the father of one of the soldiers Troy saved -- told Jenkins he would work to have the Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to Troy posthumously.
A clause in that award might include words similar to a clause in the Louisiana Legislature’s recent commendation: “Whereas, Sergeant Jenkins died of wounds received in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom in Baghdad, where he was on a dismounted patrol and injured as the result of an explosion when he threw himself on a cluster bomb dropped by an Iraqi child, protecting the lives of the child and several soldiers...”
Jenkins said in Ville Platte on the Wednesday after Veterans Day that he doesn’t think Troy will get the Medal of Honor, “at least in my lifetime.”
Time will tell.