Private First Class Robert Donald Jenks
From the South Dakota WWII Memorial website:
Robert Donald Jenks was born in Sutherland, Iowa December 15, 1922 to Margaret and Arthur Jenks. He had one sister Frances and five brothers Joseph, James, Arthur, Tommy, and Jack. The family moved from Iowa to Huron, South Dakota. Before entering the military, Robert worked in the harvest fields, for Northwestern Railroad, and at Daumís City Auditorium in Huron.
Jenks joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in Aberdeen, South Dakota in December 15, 1942 on his twentieth birthday and trained in San Diego, California. He was sent overseas Easter Sunday April 6, l943. He was serving in the mortar-firing platoon of the Second Marines on Tarawa.
On November 23, l943 Private Robert Jenks was killed during the third of day of battle. It was his first battle. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the Presidential Unit Citation awarded the Second Marine division. That citation read in part:
For outstanding performance in combat during the seizure and occupation of the Japanese-held Atoll of Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, November 20-24, l943. Forced by treacherous coral reefs to disembark from their landing craft hundreds of yards off the beach, the Second Marine Division (Reinforced) became a highly vulnerable target for devastating Japanese fire. Dauntlessly advancing in spite of rapidly mounting losses, the Marines fought a gallant battle against crushing odds, clearing the limited beachheads of snipers and machine guns, reducing powerfully fortified enemy positions and completely annihilating the fanatically and strongly entrenched Japanese forces. . . by the valiant fighting spirit of these men, their heroic fortitude under the punishing fire and their relentless perseverance in waging this epic battle in the Central Pacific, they have upheld the finest traditions of the United State Naval Service.
Private Jenkís life was a sacrifice in part for successful occupation of Tarawa, which gave the U.S. forces strategic air, and land bases for continued operations. His name is inscribed on a granite obelisk in front of the Huron Public Library.
At the time of his death, he was survived by his mother Margaret Jenks, his sister Frances, and five brothers including Private Joseph Jenks, U.S. Marine Corps; Pfc. James B. Jenks, U.S. Marine Corps; Pvt. Arthur Jenks, U.S. Army; Tommy; and Jack.
This entry is respectfully submitted by Chad McNeely, 9th Grade, Redfield High School, Redfield, South Dakota. May 23, 2002. This entry was respectfully edited by Mary Schwartz, English teacher, Redfield High School, Redfield, South Dakota. Among the sources for this information were an application for a SD veteranís bonus payment, newspaper clippings, and Tarawa on the Web.
Thanks to the students of South Dakota for their hard work on the South Dakota WWII Memorial website which has been reproduced here on T.O.T.W.
copyright 2002 T.O.T.W.
Created 23 December 2002