SYKESVILLE — Daniel M. Jenkins was ready to hit the books at Shippensburg (Pa.) State University last fall.
The gulf war put a temporary halt to those plans.
Following his 1985 graduation from Liberty High School, Jenkins enlisted in the U.S. Marines, serving four years and attaining the rank of sergeant.
He kept his ties to the corps as a reservist and resumed his education at Catonsville Community College, Baltimore County, in 1989.
At 23, with an associate's degree to his credit, he planned to continue his studies in political science. Before he could register, however, his unit was called up in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
He found himself back in the role of platoon sergeant in Bravo Company, riding across the Saudi Arabian desert in a light armored vehicle.
The unit was deployed to Saudi Arabia in December. When the ground war began, they were a "few kilometers" inside Kuwait and provided "diversion for the main offensive."
"My company was involved in the fighting," he said. "We took artillery fire a couple of times, mostly small-arms fire."
On one occasion, Jenkins'vehicle, which resembles a "mini-tank," was hit by shrapnel. The menwere safe inside, though, and escaped injury.
"The Iraqis were firing pretty inaccurate rounds," he said. "We were never really afraid."
After the war, the unit was "swamped with POWs." That duty delayed the troops' homecoming until last week.
"Our battalion left Saudi a month ago," he said. "We in Bravo Unit had to stay behind to process the prisoners of war."
Jenkins said he was grateful for the efforts of his family, neighbors and friends here.
"Mail offered the troops the massive support they needed to get the job done," he said.
The unit arrived back at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Thursday. Jenkinsspent the weekend here with his parents, Les and Phyllis. He'll stayin the reserves, but he said he thinks his active duty days are done.
"They are giving reservists a long break," he said. "We don't have a drill meeting until September."
Jenkins said his plans include a part-time job and a little traveling, perhaps visiting friends inCalifornia.
Then, after his year-long detour, he said he will be off to college again.
CAPTION: U.S. Marine Sgt. Daniel M. Jenkins of Sykesville with an Iraqi prisoner of warhe befriended. The two exchanged addresses.
SOLDIER COMES HOME
FINKSBURG -- Army Pfc. Larry "Wayne" Bennett Jr. gave his mother her Mother's Day present a week early: himself.
Bennett, who has been stationed in Augsberg, Germany, with the HHB VII Corps Artillery since January 1990, came home May 6 for a 30 day leave,which he is spending with his family.
The 19-year-old soldier, a communications specialist, had been deployed to the Persian Gulf Dec.16, 1990. His unit became active when the ground war started Feb. 23.
"We commanded the field artillery brigades," Bennett said. "We gathered information on where the enemy was and what they were doing. Since I was in communications, I received and transmitted the messages."
Bennett stayed in the gulf until April 28, when his unit returned to Germany for a week before flying home to the U.S. for leave.
Since coming home, Bennett has visited his mother, Donna Stephens, his half-brothers, Michael and Kelly Stephens, and his father, Larry Bennett Sr., and stepmother, Sharon Bennett, also of Finksburg.
Healso has visited West Middle School, Sandymount Elementary and Liberty High schools, speaking to various classes about his experiences. He also displayed souvenirs: a prayer rug from Saudi Arabia, an Iraqi gas mask and a Kuwaiti national flag.
Bennett returns to Germany June 4 for probably another 14 months, he said.
CAPTION: Army Pfc. Larry "Wayne" Bennett Jr., who arrived home last weekend, speaks to students at West Middle School.
WAR IN THE GULF