Meet the Man Who's 'the Best at the Worst Job in the World'

Robert Jensen makes sense of the aftermath of the world's disasters
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2016 6:49 PM CST
Updated Dec 25, 2016 10:12 AM CST
Meet the Man Who's 'The Best at the Worst Job in the World'
In this Nov. 29, 2016, file photo, rescue workers recover a body from the wreckage site of an airplane crash, in La Union, a mountainous area near Medellin, Colombia.   (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara, File)

Robert Jensen is "the best at the worst job in the world"—and it's a job you've probably never given any thought to. Jensen handles the aftermath of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, plane crashes, and more, GQ reports in a haunting profile of the head of Kenyon International Emergency Services. Jensen has been personally involved in dealing with the mass death and destruction of Hurricane Katrina, the Oklahoma City bombing, and 9/11. Kenyon takes on six to 20 disasters every year, recovering bodies, talking to the press, organizing hotels for victims' families, and much more. Sometimes the job involves traipsing through the jungle for days, avoiding pumas and 23 kinds of poisonous snakes, to get to the site of a plane crash, knowing full well he isn't on a rescue mission.

Jensen and his employees do this to recover every scrap of flesh or bone and every personal item they can find. They do it to give families something to bury, something to remember their loved ones by. Jensen says the job is to help families "transition from what was normal to the new normal." He recalls delivering belongings to a woman whose son was killed in a plane crash. Before she saw his things, Jensen says "she wasn't coping...There was no proof. No body." It's the things—not the body parts—that get to Jensen. "When you go through the personal effects, you have the ability to learn all about a person," he says. "I know what I would want back from my family members." Read the full story here. (More disaster stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.