James C. Pennington – Major General, United States Army

From a contemporary press report:

James C. Pennington, 72, a retired major general, decorated combat veteran and adjutant general of the Army who later became president of the National Association for Uniformed Services, died of a heart attack June 5, 1998 at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

General Pennington, a resident of Springfield, had gone to Barksdale to give a speech on health care for military personnel and their families. That and similar issues are the principal concerns of the National Association for Uniformed Services, a lobbying organization that has its headquarters in Springfield. General Pennington had headed NAUS since retiring from the Army in 1985.

General Pennington, a native of Rocky Ford, Georgia, began his military career as a private in the infantry in World War II. He served in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and was wounded in action during the fighting on the River Elbe in 1945. He took part in the occupation of Germany when the war was over.

In 1947, the future general left active duty and attended Georgia Southern College, where he graduated. In 1950, he was recalled to active duty from the reserves after the outbreak of the Korean War. Among his early assignments was the Adjutant General School at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. The adjutant general is the Army's chief personnel officer, and personnel work accounted for much of General Pennington's career.

He was assigned to Washington for a total of 17 years. But he also was trained as an armored officer and he had numerous tours of duty with combat units. In addition, he found time to obtain a master's degree in education at Indiana University and to do further graduate work at the University of Maryland and the Harvard Business School.

During the war in Southeast Asia, he had two tours of duty in Vietnam. He was adjutant general of the Army in the mid-1970s and commanding general of the Army Physical Disability Agency when he retired from the service in 1985.

General Pennington's military decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal, two awards of the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, six awards of the Bronze Star with combat “v” device, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, six awards of the Army Commendation Medal and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.

As president of NAUS, General Pennington was a well-known figure on Capitol Hill. Among his recent projects was a military employees health benefits program, which is now being considered by Congress.

Survivors include his wife, Harriet Donaldson Pennington of Springfield; two children, Jay Pennington of Lafayette, Colo., and Kim Sylvester of Raleigh, N.C.; and three granddaughters.

President, National Association for Uniformed Services (NAUS)

Devoted husband, father and grandfather, died June 5, 1998, at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, where he was scheduled to speak on the progress made in the battle to save health care for military personnel and their families. He was 72.

Born in Bulloch County, Georgia, he joined the Army after graduation from high school, D-Day 1944. Beginning his military career as a private in the infantry in World War II, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was wounded in action on the Elbe River in 1945. He served as Sergeant Major in the Occupation Forces in Germany; then rose through the ranks to Major General with service in Europe, two tours in Vietnam and major staff assignments in the US, including appointment as the 50th The Adjutant General of the Army.

His military citations and decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal (with V Device and 5 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart, Air Medal (with V Device), Army Commendation Medal (with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters) and Combat Infantryman Badge.

Jim Pennington was a devoted, loving family man — wonderful husband and soul mate to his wife, Harriet Donaldson Pennington; a caring, proud father to his daughter, Kimberly Sylvester and son, James C. Pennington, Jr.; good friend to his son-in-law, Bob Sylvester and daughter-in-law, Rebecca Pennington; a doting, great ”Pop-Pop” who dearly loved this three granddaughters, Kaitlyn and Laura Sylvester and Rachael Pennington; as well as a respected brother to his sister, Burnelle Colley of Statesboro, GA and brother, Alton B. Pennington of Bynum, AL.

He was a true leader, who never forgot his loyalty to the ranks and fought for their rights to the end. A wonderful, gutsy, ”get-it-done” gentleman, he'll be missed by all.

Funeral services are scheduled for Thursday, June 11 at 9 a.m. in the Fort Myer, Virginia Memorial Chapel, with interment in Arlington National Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the J.C. Pennington Military/Veteran Legislative Memorial Fund, 5535 Hempstead Way, Springfield, VA 22151.

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