Thursday, May 03, 2007

Jay-D H. Ornsby-Adkins dies of injuries from I.E.D.

Jay-D Ornsby-Adkins grew up surrounded by women -- raised by his mom, close with his aunt, adored by the cousin and step-sibling he treated as little sisters -- so his family and friends were a little surprised by how well he took to Army life.

A week before he shipped to Iraq in March, when he last saw his extended family and friends, Ornsby-Adkins was the same kind and gentle boy they loved, his family said, but he was also a mature man, proud of his uniform and eager to fight for his adopted country.

Ornsby-Adkins, 21, of Amador County was killed Saturday in Salman Pak, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device and small arms fire hit the vehicle in which he was traveling. Two other American soldiers, from Texas and Illinois, also died in the attack.

"He had a heart and a shine to him that you couldn't ignore," said his aunt, Kerrie Miller. "He was thoughtful, kind, sweet, and that always came through. In the Army, he was proud, he was confident. He looked at it as an opportunity to better himself, and he did."

Ornsby-Adkins was a private first class assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Benning, Ga. He enlisted in June.

Born in Australia, Ornsby-Adkins moved with his mother to Ione (Amador County) when he was 5. They lived with his aunt and young cousin for two years before his mother, Robyn Ornsby, remarried.

Ornsby-Adkins was always a good sport, letting his cousin Jordy and his stepsister, Morgan, style his hair for fun, and looking after his mom with the protectiveness of an only son, Miller said. He was always a small kid with a huge smile, she said.

He wrestled at Amador High School, and when he was 17 he fell in love with a 16-year-old fellow student, Ashley. The couple married in December.

After high school, he turned down his aunt's offer to pay for college, and worked regularly -- first with a plumbing company, and later with a fireworks manufacturer in his hometown -- as he figured out what to do with the rest of his life, Miller said. Last year, he chose the Army, and while his family wasn't thrilled, they supported him.

"He wanted to fight for his country and for our freedom, and there was no talking him out of it," said Tom Inczewski, Ornsby-Adkins' stepfather until nine years ago when Inczewski and Ornsby divorced. "He was determined to go to Iraq, and there was just no way around it."

Ornsby-Adkins called his mother and wife regularly from Iraq -- at least once a week -- and once left a voice mail message for his aunt, wishing her safe travels before she took a trip to Australia at the end of March.

"He's over there and we're leaving on this luxury trip and he's thinking of us. That was who he was," Miller said.

In addition to his mother, his wife and his aunt, Ornsby-Adkins is survived by his father, Shad Adkins of Australia; two other aunts and an uncle, all in Australia; grandparents Marcia and Bill Ornsby and Dick and Kathern Adkins, all of Australia; three cousins; and two half brothers.

From the SF Chronicle