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Small-town Lula mourns its second lost soldier

POSTED: June 13, 2009 12:10 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Lula has lost two of its residents to war in recent years: Army Pfc. Johnathon Millican in 2007 in Iraq and Georgia National Guard Maj. Kevin Jenrette on June 4 in Afghanistan.

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America’s red, white and blue stands at half-staff today outside the Pfc. Johnathon Millican U.S. Post Office.

Last summer, the building was renamed in honor of the 20-year-old Lula Army soldier who was killed by a grenade in Iraq in 2007.

And today, the family of a Lula National Guardsman, Maj. Kevin Jenrette, will lay their husband, father and friend to rest.

Jenrette, 37, was one of three Georgia Army National Guard soldiers who were killed by small arms fire and an improvised explosive device blast June 4 near Kapisa, Afghanistan.

A funeral service for Jenrette will be held at 3 p.m. at Timber Ridge Baptist Church.

Lula residents said Friday they feel their small town of 1,500 is making a big sacrifice for its freedom.

Post office customer Jason Dyer said the signs of an overseas war are popping up more in the day-to-day life of the town.

Lula City Manager Dennis Bergin said the city is solemnly honoring Jenrette with 100 American flags lining the streets of the late guardsman’s neighborhood. Bergin said the city also has nearly completed a veterans park "to celebrate those who served before us, those who are serving now and those who will serve in the future."

Dyer said the American flags on street sides and at half-staff remind him that his freedom comes at a high price.

"It makes you think about it a little more," he said. "It’s not on my mind a whole lot, but when it happens to somebody you know locally. ... I wouldn’t want to be doing it myself, so I actually do appreciate it."

Jamie Dodd is the postal clerk at the post office. Dodd said she has helped Jenrette’s wife, Shannon, and their three young children mail packages to their husband and father in Afghanistan every week.

"The day before he passed away, she was in here mailing him packages, actually two packages," Dodd said. "They were excited about bringing packages in and mailing them to him. He seemed to be a great dad and a great husband."

Dodd said the whole town is mourning their latest lost service member, but also has gained a deeper appreciation for the soldiers’ perilous jobs and the opportunities they provide for Americans young and old.

"With this happening to him, I think a lot of people realize there is a price to pay for our freedom," she said.

Lula resident Charles Loden said war is ugly, but the freedoms troops protect are precious.

Loden said he didn’t know Jenrette, but is humbled by the risks he took to preserve Lula residents’ liberty to attend church, school and pursue their dreams.

"They do it for this community, they do it for everybody in this community," Loden said of soldiers going to war.

"This town’s little, you know? If it weren’t for them, this country wouldn’t be free and this town wouldn’t be free to do whatever we wanted to do," he said. "I thank the Lord every day for people who will go out there and sacrifice their life everyday for us. They don’t have to do that, but they do it. And what really touches me so much is that they do it but they don’t even know us."



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