Stacy L. Pearsall
Ernest R. Jenkins
O-5 (Lt. Colonel)
Army Air Corp & Air Force Reserves
Jan. 7, 1942 - 1976
Ernest R. Jenkins was born April 16, 1918, in Charleston, SC. During WWII, he was stationed in North Africa as a 2nd Lieutenant B-17 Bombardier. He flew 21 combat sorties before being shot down over France. The entire crew, save one, survived. Despite being injured while parachuting from the downed B-17, Jenkins evaded capture for over a month. His copilot, Robert Johnson, and he were captured near Perpignan, Spain, and taken to a POW camp in Barth, Germany, known as Stalag Luft. Nearly 11,000 servicemen were held at Stalag Luft. During his time in captivity, Jenkins estimated he dug 6 tunnels to escape. While Jenkins was unsuccessful, there were others with more success. Jenkins was held for 17 months before being liberated by allied forces. Upon returning home to Charleston, SC, Jenkins worked for the state and remained in the Air Force Reserves until he retired.
"I don't consider myself 'The Greatest Generation'," says Jenkins. "I was just doing what was needed to protect our great nation."