Ronald E. Jenkins “Ed” age 85 of Halls received his call to serve in Jesus’ Army Saturday, May 13, 2023. Formerly of Dunedin, FL, He was born in Harriman, TN 13 November 1937 the third son of Ben H. and Hazel O. Jenkins who preceded him in death. Also preceding him was his wife of 60 years Betty Jane Wright Jenkins and their two sons Ronald E. Jenkins Jr. and Steven Brent Jenkins, and second brother Stanley Jenkins. Ed is survived by his sister Brenda Jenkins Wilson and husband David Wilson of Knoxville, TN, first brother Tom Jenkins and wife Cendy Jenkins of Morristown, TN, and third brother Buddy L. Jenkins and wife Paulette W. Jenkins of Knoxville, TN, sister-in-law Nancy W. Jenkins of Spring City, TN, and many nieces and nephews.
Ed was born and grew up in Harriman, TN where he graduated from South Harriman High School in 1956. He entered the army in 1957 where he served in the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg North Carolina, he was recalled into the army in 1961 where he was stationed at Ft. Polk Louisiana in the 829th hospital before going to Ft. Rucker Alabama to Aviation School. He was sent to the Homestead Air Force Base Florida during the Cuban crisis from there he was sent to Vietnam where he was in the 57th Medical Detachment Helicopter Ambulance “Dust Off” evacuation of both American and Vietnamese wounded. His helicopter was shot down three times, he received over thirty medal, sixteen Air Medals, the Army Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Gallantry Cross to name a few, he also received four letters of appreciation for service above the call of duty. After Vietnam he served in Alaska where he received letters of appreciation from French and US Army for being both co-pilot and crew chief of a UH-1B helicopter that flew to 18, 320 feet altitude rescuing a French climbing team of four persons from Mount McKinley Alaska. This was the highest altitude rescue ever made by a helicopter. He also received a letter of appreciation from the Astronaut program for helping train those selected for the moon walk program. He and his helicopter precipitation in a Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom TV program with Marlin Perkins where he was tagging a baby moose. From Alaska he went to San Francisco, CA, where he was assigned to the Precedio of San Francisco he received six letters of appreciation during his service there. He was in four additional helicopter crashes all of these did not come without a cost to his body. He was discharged Honorable Retirement and Permanent Disability Nov 28, 1969.
After Military retirement he worked as an assistant manager for Holiday Inn and Great Western Food Company before going to work as an Air Traffic Controller. After completing of Air Traffic Control Academy in Oklahoma City, OK he did his training at McGhee Tyson Control Tower in Knoxville, TN from there he went to the Miami Control Tower, in Miami, FL where he received six letters of appreciation from the FAA and different air lines. He received more letters in one year than the remaining ninety-eight controllers combined. From Miami he transferred to the Tampa Control Tower in Tampa, FL. He retired from the FAA in November of 1998.
He said the thing he is most proud of was being able to serve Jesus wherever he was. He served in churches in TN, LA, AL, AK, CA, and FL as a Deacon, chairman of Deacons, Sunday School Teacher, on every committee in the church, Boy Scout leader and always trying to be the best friend to his pastor. He was a charter member of Gulf Coast Fellowship in Palm Harbor, FL for thirty-eight years until he moved back to his beloved Tennessee, where he then became a member of Beaver Dam Baptist Church.
Graveside Service will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in Roane Memorial Gardens, Rockwood, TN. Joe Hancock pastor of Gulf Coast Fellowship, Palm Harbor, FL officiating. Donations in memory of Ed may be made to The Point at Lifespring, 4371 Lifespring Ln., Knoxville, TN 37918. Kyker Funeral Home of Harriman is serving the Jenkins Family. www.kykerfuneralhomes.com