ANCHORAGE, Alaska — When 9-year-old Joey Jenkins smelled a strong smell coming from the next room, he did exactly what his Boy Scout leader taught him to do: he alerted his mother. Fearing a gas leak, Tammie Jenkins piled all seven of her kids in the van and began pulling out of the driveway.
Before the car even reached the end of the driveway, the Jenkins' home exploded.
Jenkins is one of 15 Alaskans that the American Red Cross of Alaska honored during its 2011 Red Cross ConocoPhillips Real Heroes Breakfast Tuesday at the Captain Cook Hotel.
The Jenkins' family lost their home last year. One year later, they've got a brand new one in the same spot.
"He's an inspiration to me, my wife is an inspiration to me. I just feel this tremendous sense of gratitude to both of them," said Ralph Jenkins, Joey's father.
Another "Real Hero" that made headlines this year was also recognized at the event. Buddy Heinrichs, a German shepherd from Willow, received the "Home Safety Award."
"It feels really wonderful that an organization such as the Red Cross would honor Buddy for what he did for our family," said Lynette Heinrichs, Buddy’s owner. "It proves that animals are truly man's best friend. They are able to take care of you at the time of crisis and that is what we had at that point."
Buddy became a superstar when dashboard camera video showed him leading an Alaska State Trooper to the Henrichs' home, which was about ready to be engulfed in flames.