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Jenkins is a skinny, awkward guy who arrives in Vietnam with Perry and Peewee. He's the opposite of them: while Peewee and Perry joke around, acting like they're not scared to go into combat, Jenkins seems terrified. He cries during their ride to their platoon. Buck up, Jenky.
Early on, it seems like Jenkins is going to be a major character, both because he shows up along with the main character and because we slowly get bits of his background. We learn that he grew up in a military family, and he enlisted because his dad sees it as part of the "game plan" (3.24) to eventually get him into Officers Candidate School.
The author also hints that there's more to Jenkins than being a wimpy guy. Before they reach their first hooch, Jenkins does a spot-on impression of an officer who yelled at Perry. Perry thinks, "Jenkins was going to be fun after all." (3.15)
Unfortunately, he doesn't have time to be.
Jenkins steps on a mine the first night of patrol, making him the first man Perry sees die. That's when the realness of war starts to hit him. It would be hard for it not to, with that.
The way Myers painted him, like he was going to be a major part of the story, helps readers feel the shock of his death, too.