Harry Jenkins was born on July 24, 1927, in Washington, D.C. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy V-5 Aviation Cadet program on May 19, 1945, and attended training at Newberry College and the University of South Carolina from June 1945 to September 1946, followed by flight training at NAS Dallas and NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, and NAS Pensacola and NAS Jacksonville, Florida. After completing flight school, he was designated a Naval Aviator on August 15, 1948, and was commissioned an Ensign on December 26, 1948. His first assignment was as a Maintenance Officer and AM-1 Mauler pilot with VA-84 at NAS Oceana, Virginia, from August 1948 to November 1949, followed by service as Assistant Maintenance Officer with Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 6 at NAS Jacksonville from December 1949 to February 1950. LtJg Jenkins next served as a Combat Information Center (CIC) Officer aboard the destroyer USS Fred T. Berry (DDE-858) from February to October 1950, including service during the opening months of the Korean War. After serving as a flight instructor at NAS Pensacola from October 1950 to January 1953, and attending CIC School at NAS Glenview, Illinois, from January to June 1953, Lt Jenkins served as a CIC Officer aboard the escort carrier USS Point Cruz (CVE-119) from June 1953 to May 1955. His next assignment was as Officer in Charge of Detachment Mike, Composite Squadron 11 (VC-11) from May 1955 to July 1957, followed by Navy Postgraduate School at Monterey, California, from July 1957 to June 1959. LCDR Jenkins served as a project engineer with the Naval Air Turbine Test Station at Trenton, New Jersey, from June 1959 to August 1961, and then completed A-4 Skyhawk Replacement Pilot Training with CVG-4 from August 1961 to February 1962. His next assignment was as Administrative Officer, Operations Officer, and then Executive Officer of CVG-16 from February to October 1962, followed by service as Executive Officer of VA-163 from October 1962 to December 1964, and Commanding Officer of VA-163 from December 1964 until he was shot down over North Vietnam on November 13, 1965. Jenkins was immediately captured and taken as a Prisoner of War. After spending 2,649 days in captivity, Capt Jenkins was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, California, and then served on the staff of Commander Naval Air Force, Pacific Fleet. Capt Jenkins next served as Commanding Officer of the amphibious transport dock USS Denver (LPD-9) from July 1974 to September 1975, followed by service as Commander Amphibious Squadron 5 from January 1976 to January 1978. Harry Jenkins retired from the Navy on June 4, 1978. He was killed while piloting a home-built aircraft on August 2, 1995.
His 1st (of 3) Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. On 24 and 25 November 1965, his captors, completely ignoring international agreements, subjected him to extreme mental and physical cruelties in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessions for propaganda purposes. Through his resistance to those brutalities, he contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese, which was attracting international attention. By his determination, courage, resourcefulness, and devotion to duty, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.