Decatur Soldier Laid to Rest

By Megan Trent

September 18, 2010 Updated Sep 18, 2010 at 7:52 PM EDT

DECATUR, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - A Decatur soldier killed in Iraq was laid to rest Saturday. Hundreds of friends, family, and community members gathered to honor the 26-year-old husband and father of two young girls.

Flags marked the solemn walk into Decatur's Bellmont High School... the same school Staff Sergent Phillip Jenkins graduated from in 2002.

"I'm very proud of him, and how outstanding that they went through that," said Joe Longsworth as he walked into the auditorium. His son was one of the pallbearers at Saturday's funeral. "And I'm just very sorry that he lost his life and leaving a family and a couple kids."

Jenkins was one of two U.S. soldiers killed last week when an Iraqi soldier opened fire on his security group.

"Sergent Jenkins was lost in Iraq, which is ironic because our mission in Iraq has been downgraded from a combat mission to a mission of helping the Iraqi people rebuild their nation," said Patriot Guard Rider Chaplin Pat Brase.

Hundreds of people turned out for Saturday's viewing and funeral... a testament to the legacy Jenkins leaves behind.

Scott Nolan works with Sgt. Jenkins' mother, Rose Jenkins. "I think it's very important that the community show some support for our military personnel and support them and what they're doing and just pay tribute and give thanks to all that they do for our and for our country."

"I think that these people want to show the family that there are more folks out here that cared about their loved one that was lost than just their family and friends," said Brase. "There are people all over the United States that care for our military and pray for them on a daily basis."

"I just think it's great that everybody's coming out and supporting the family and him, and I wish them the very best," added Longsworth.

At the funeral, Jenkins was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his service to his country.

Around 200 Patriot Guard Riders came to escort Jenkins' body to the burial site.

The Patriot Guard was formed back in 2005 as a way to form a barrier between grieving families and a Kansas-based religious organization that protested at military funerals. That organization had said they would make an appearance at Saturday's funeral, but there is no indication they ever actually showed up.

"They are more no shows than shows," says Brase. "I've been to more than 90 funerals, and I've only encountered them eight times."

Their absence was one bit of good news for the grieving family and for a community mourning the loss of Sergent Phillip Jenkins, who would have turned 27 this month.

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