Widow wants to know how contractor was killed in Bragg training
Posted June 25, 2010
Fayetteville, N.C. — The widow of a civilian defense contractor killed Tuesday in a training accident on Fort Bragg said Friday she desperately wants to know more about how and why he died.
Eddie Jenkins, 57, was shot in the incident at Range 77, where soldiers were taking part in tactics to help prepare units for overseas missions. He died at Womack Army Medical Center.
Jenkins was an employee of Tennessee-based Echota Technologies Corp., which helps Army personnel operate tactical ranges on post. A company spokeswoman said he had worked for Echota since January.
His wife, Linda Jenkins, said that one of his jobs was putting targets in place on the firing range.
"Did he love this job. That's all he talked about," she said.
Yet, Linda Jenkins said she always worried about his safety. She said she doesn't believe that her husband and his co-workers were given protective armor to wear on the ranges.
"He always assured me that he wasn't in any danger, and I kept thinking, 'I don't see how,'" she said.
Echota Chief Operating Officer Mark Boyatt said in a statement Friday that company policy called for contractors to wear body armor. He declined to comment further, citing the Army's ongoing investigation of the incident.
Linda Jenkins said she celebrated a belated Fathers Day with her husband on Monday night at their church. On Tuesday morning, the couple sat at home and talked before he left for work.
Eddie Jenkins, a 20-year Army veteran and retired sergeant first class, even broached the subject of death during the conversation, she said.
"When your time is out, it's out, and you can't stop it," she recalled him saying. "I thought that was so strange."
A few hours later, she got a call from Fort Bragg that her husband of 34 years was dead.
"I said, 'Are you sure? Do you have the right Linda Jenkins?'" she said.
Another Echota contractor, Daniel R. Aliff, 27, was wounded in the incident. He was treated at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill and released.
Pfc. Zachary Tams, 25, of Gold Beach, Ore., was grazed in the arm by a bullet and was treated at Womack Army Medical Center and released. Tams is a Special Forces student at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School on post.
Army officials said 150 soldiers were at the range for training, but only 15 were shooting at the time of the incident. Soldiers first do a dry fire, which doesn't involve bullets or blanks. They then move to blanks and finally to live ammunition.
Officials said numerous safety measures are in place during live-fire exercises, and they haven't determined what led to Eddie Jenkins' death.
“Something went wrong that should not have went wrong,” Linda Jenkins said. "It will bring peace to me if I could find out what happened – the honest truth about what happened – to my husband on the range that day."
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration also is investigating the incident.