Harold A. Jenkins

Cullum: 25980

Class: 1965

Cadet Company: E2

Date of Birth: August 8, 1943

Date of Death: September 26, 2020

Died in: Gharpsburg, GA

Interred: TBD - View or Post a Eulogy


Harold A. JenkinsLieutenant Colonel Harold Augustus Jenkins Jr. (Retired) joined the ghostly assemblage at his home in Sharpsburg, GA, surrounded by loved ones, on September 26, 2020. Integrity in word and deed, fidelity to family and country, and an abiding faith in God were the guiding virtues of his life.

Harold was born in McKeesport, PA on August 8, 1943, to Lieutenant Harold Augustus Jenkins and Berniece Marion Pangburn. He was the oldest of six children. Being a military family, the Jenkins family moved many times around the United States and Germany during Harold’s childhood.

In 1957 the family moved to Orangeburg, SC. Harold attended Wilkinson Senior High School, where he excelled in school activities, both academically and athletically. He was elected president of his junior class as well as vice-president of the student council and president of the National Honor Society. He graduated in 1961 as class valedictorian.

Harold received a nomination to West Point from the legendary Robert N.C. Nix, U.S. Representative from the state of Pennsylvania, and Harold took the oath of allegiance at Trophy Point on July 5, 1961. His extracurricular activities included membership in the Cadet Chapel Choir, the Glee Club, and the Debate Council and Forum. He was also captain of the 1964-65 Track Team and still holds the record for the 440-yard run.

One of his classmates noted: “As captain of the Track Team, Harold provided awesome leadership to all team members but especially to the underclassmen. I remember many trips with Hal where we struggled mightily to win our events and to win the meet. Many of those meets went down to the wire—the final event being the mile relay. We always seemed to be behind when we handed the baton off to Hal as the anchor leg and he always came through in the clutch. His grit and determination drove him to victory many times. Hal set many records at West Point but perhaps the one he set with all of us as a classmate, teammate and close friend, was who we could always count on.”

Of the several stories about Harold’s cadet adventures is his sharing a pint of butter pecan ice cream with his Beast Barracks roommates. As one classmate recalls: “Unfortunately our planning hadn’t encompassed purloining spoons from the dining hall. Instead, we were compelled to make do with shoehorns, each taking turns to scoop out a dollop of ice cream, watched like hawks by the other two. No castaways sharing a survival biscuit could have been more vigilant.”

In 1965, Harold graduated from West Point and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Infantry. His initial assignment was to the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, KY. He was assigned to the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, the “Geronimo” regiment of World War II fame. Ironically, Harold became battalion commander of the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment as a second lieutenant when that unit changed colors and became 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment.

His next assignment took him to Vietnam as an advisor to the 22nd Vietnamese Ranger Battalion. He requested a second tour on the condition that he be assigned to the same unit. Harold said Vietnamese soldiers often felt the Americans didn’t really care about their cause because, unlike themselves, they came for a year and left. They didn’t realize that many Americans returned to Vietnam for subsequent assignments but didn’t return to their previous units. Harold wanted to free them from that perception. Word has it the unit celebrated for a week upon his return.

During his leave between tours in 1968, Harold married Laverne Caldwell of Orangeburg, SC. Their union was blessed with a son, Harold III, and a daughter, Cheryl Denise.

Upon return from Vietnam, Harold was assigned to Fort Benning, GA. He then attended Purdue University and received a master’s degree in industrial relations. Subsequent assignments include to West Point as a tactical officer; Korea; Fort Riley, KS; and to the Command and General Staff College. This was followed by a return to West Point as a tactical officer and a short stint in the Center for Leadership and Personal Development. Toward the end of this tour, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and moved to Frankfurt, Germany, where he served as Headquarters V Corps deputy G-1. His final assignment was at Fort Leavenworth, KS as an instructor at CGSC. He retired in 1988 ready to start a new chapter.

Harold remained in Leavenworth and continued to support military readiness as team chief in the Battle Command Training Program. Later, he became a defense contractor for the State Department as the country lead for peacekeeping operations in Ethiopia. He retired in 2014. In full retirement, Harold enjoyed exercising full control of his time and his affiliations with University Circle United Methodist Church in Cleveland, OH and later with Fairburn United Methodist Church, Fairburn, GA. He served on the board of trustees of both churches.

Harold’s parents, brothers Stephen and Bruce (KIA, Vietnam, 1968), and sister Sandramarie preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife, Laverne; son, Harold III ’93 (Tanesha ’94) of Tyrone, GA; daughter, Cheryl of Sharpsburg, GA; and brothers, Vanthony and Lieutenant Colonel Christopher (Retired) of Newport News, VA.

Dan Christman eloquently wrote, “The Jenkins legacy of athletic grace and deep, boundless character will endure at West Point forever. Thank you, Lord, for bringing us Harold Augustus Jenkins Jr. May you rest in peace. Hal, you have inspired us, and the generations that follow, deeply and emotionally. We will never forget you and the beautiful course you have run.”

— Classmates and family