||November 17, 1996
On Tuesday, Veterans Day 1996, at the instigation of Fred Ostrom and the
efforts of many sympathetic supporters, approximately 300 veterans and
their families and friends came together at Sister Spring cemetery near
Interlachen, Florida, to honor our fallen comrade, Pfc Robert H. Jenkins,
Jr., and to properly mark his grave. Fred's aspirations for this day were
fully met, as were mine. You would have approved also.
Carlos Rainwater, Director of Florida Department
of Veterans Affairs, was the Master of Ceremonies, and did an outstanding
job. After a token clean-up of the grave site led by Kathryn 'Cat' Mills
of Rainwater's staff (the real clean-up had already been done by Sheriff
Taylor Douglas of Putnam County and some brig residents), Fred delivered
an inspirational address, saying all the right things and directing many
of them toward the young people who attend the middle school named in
Robert's memory. Carlos recognized the donors of the new head stone, grave
cover, and foot stone -- all marble and properly inscribed. A member of
the Jenkins family thanked everyone with an address laced with trust in
Jesus, love, service, and sharing -- all traits exhibited by Robert. A
painting of Robert was donated by FDVA staffer Sandy Talbot and will hang
in the cafeteria at RHJMS. Ceremonies were closed by a 21-gun salute by
the Marine Corps League Detachment 708, echo taps, and everyone filing
by the grave and leaving small American flags as a border for Robert's
now properly marked grave. The best Veterans Day that I have ever enjoyed!
Robert's family was in attendance: Mother Willie Mae, Father Robert H.
Jenkins, Sr., sisters Rosalind, Veronica, and Ruby. His cousin, Tommy
Jenkins, was also there.
Major Steve Lowery, USMC(ret.), team leader of the fateful patrol to Fire
Base Argonne, was present, having traveled from Las Vegas for this conclusion
of a very long saga. Two Medal of Honor recipients were in attendance.
Members of the Marine Corps League, Navy League, Fleet Reserve, Vietnam
Veterans of America, VFW, American Legion, and DAV were there and decked
out. The band from Robert H. Jenkins Middle School in Palatka provided
music for the occassion. Janet Gabuoti, Principal, and Linda Sheppard,
Teacher, are Fred's local friends and were very much in attendance. Cat
Mills of Carlos Rainwater's staff and a retired US Navy veteran, is to
be especially commended for her efforts in organizing and effecting this
grand occasion. The good people of Putnam County are also to be commended
for their response in taking this opportunity to prominently honor a real
treasure to their community: Congressional Medal of Honor recipient PFC
Robert H. Jenkins, Jr., 3'd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division,
United States Marine Corps.
Well done, Fred!
Greater love hath no man than this,
that he lay down his life for his friend.