Saturday, May 05, 2007

Jay-D Ornsby-Adkins remembered

IONE - Jay-D Ornsby-Adkins wasn't born an American, but he died one.

"My son and I came over here to America when Jay was 5 years old," Robyn Ornsby, the soldier's mother and Australian immigrant, said Tuesday night as mourners bearing lighted candles filled the street in front of the beauty salon she owns.

Army Pfc. Ornsby-Adkins died Saturday in Salman Pak, Iraq, when a bomb went off near his Army Humvee and gunfire erupted. He was 21 years old and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division based in Fort Benning, Ga. The Department of Defense announced his death Tuesday, along with the deaths of two other soldiers.

"He did this with a lot of admiration and love for this country," his mother said of her son's ultimate sacrifice.

The slain soldier's wife, Ashley Ornsby-Adkins, also spoke briefly about the man she married on Dec. 17.

"Jay-D was the most beautiful husband," she said, before a family friend escorted the grieving mother and daughter-in-law away from TV cameras to join the vigil.

Heartbreak was everywhere in this small town Tuesday, a place with about 3,000 residents - small enough that everyone from the mayor to schoolchildren recall the Army private simply as "Jay-D."

"I met him briefly, because I patronize the shop his mom has in town here," Ione Mayor Jerry Sherman said. Sherman and the rest of the City Council devoted part of Tuesday's City Council meeting to agreeing that they would cooperate with veterans groups seeking to create a memorial downtown to honor Ornsby-Adkins and other local soldiers.

Sherman and other officials say he is the first person who grew up in Ione to be killed in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And they somberly noted that he might not be the last.

"I know we've got several other young men and women over in Iraq," City Concilman Jeff Barnhart said.

Barnhart's son, Brad Ferguson Barnhart, 20, was a friend of Ornsby-Adkins'. And he recently followed in Ornsby-Adkins' footsteps, signing up for Army service. The younger Barnhart will leave soon for basic training, his father said.

Those who knew Ornsby-Adkins described him as well-liked.

That was evident in the hundreds of bouquets, handwritten cards, photographs, flags and other tokens of love and sorrow on the window, sidewalk and planter box in front of The Robyn's Nest, Robyn Ornsby's beauty salon.

Friends said that Ornsby-Adkins was a horseman and participated in junior rodeo contests as a young man.

"I used to work with him at MP Associates," a firm that makes explosive special effects for movies, said Seth Tuttle, 20. "He was a tester. He would set up pyrotechnics and explosives and set them off. He quit that job to join the Army."

From the Stockton Record

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