November 17, 1996

Recon Marines:

Mission accomplished!

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!

Keith Huddleston

Greater love hath no man than this,

that he lay down his life for his friend.