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Army Pfc. Jay-D Ornsby-Adkins, 21, Ione; among 3 killed by roadside bomb

June 10, 2007|Martha Groves | Times Staff Writer

December was a month of milestones for Jay-D OrnsbyAdkins, a young man with a wrestler's grit and a flashy grin. He graduated from boot camp at Ft. Knox, Ky., turned 21 and married his high school sweetheart, Ashley.

The couple spent their honeymoon driving from their home in California's Gold Country to Ft. Benning, Ga., stopping at museums and a crocodile farm, and celebrating New Year's Eve at an Applebee's in a dry Louisiana county.

Along the way, they talked about starting a family and "basically, living a happy life with our kids," said Ashley OrnsbyAdkins, 20.

That dream will remain unfulfilled.

The Army private first class was among three soldiers killed April 28 when a roadside bomb exploded near their Humvee and they were attacked with small-arms fire in Salman Pak, Iraq, south of Baghdad.

Also killed were Sgt. Glenn D. Hicks Jr., 24, of College Station, Texas, and Pvt. Cole E. Spencer, 21, of Gays, Ill. All three were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Ft. Benning.

News of Ornsby-Adkins' death spread quickly through Ione, Calif., the small Amador County community 34 miles southeast of Sacramento where he had lived for the last 14 years.

Within hours, townspeople had dropped off hundreds of bouquets, cards and photographs in front of the popular Robyn's Nest hair salon on West Main Street, owned by his mother, Robyn Ornsby.

More than 600 mourners attended his funeral May 9 at the Church of the Nazarene in Sutter Creek. His coffin was draped in an American flag, but an Australian flag also was on display because he was born in Perth. He moved to the United States with his mother when he was 5.

Although still an Australian citizen, he joined the Army in an effort to give his life direction after graduating from a continuation high school and working odd jobs, including as a fireworks tester.

Although Ornsby-Adkins was intelligent, he never liked school, his mother said. "I had to push him through to graduate," she said. At 5 feet 7 inches, she said, he was "an awesome little wrestler," even though he was usually the smallest. Friends called him Jay-Dizzle, or Dizzle for short.

His mother said he was kind-hearted, and it seemed that just about everybody in town knew him. Weekends, he thought, were made for partying.

"He was kind of the wild one out of the bunch," said one of his buddies, Jonathon Walloupe, 25. By enlisting, "he was trying to make something happen for himself later down the road."

Walloupe accompanied Robyn Ornsby and Ashley OrnsbyAdkins to meet the soldier's coffin when it arrived in Sacramento. When the small group returned to Ione, they were greeted by firefighters and police officers from two cities and townspeople lining three blocks. Ornsby-Adkins was the first soldier from their town to die in Iraq.

Robyn Ornsby is proud of the medals and badges her son earned in his short Army career: a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and an expert badge in pistol shooting. But after the funeral service, she put them away, preferring to remember her son by the many good times they had.

"I raised him on my own, and I think our whole life was special together," she said.

In addition to his wife and mother, Ornsby-Adkins is survived by his father, Shad Adkins of Australia; a stepsister; four grandparents, also in Australia; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.



War casualties

Total U.S. deaths*:

- In and around Iraq**: 3,491

- In and around Afghanistan***: 334

- Other locations***: 61

* Includes military and Department of Defense-employed civilian personnel killed in action and in nonhostile circumstances

**As of Friday

***As of June 2

Source: Department of Defense

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