Col. Jeffrey Jennings, chief of staff of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Fort Huachuca, and an Arizona native, was inducted into the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School, or OCS, Hall of Fame during a ceremony May 19, in the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The OCS Hall of Fame was established in 1958 to honor infantry officer graduates of the OCS program who distinguished themselves in military or Civilian pursuits. Jennings joined the list of more than 2,000 honorable inductees into the Hall of Fame and this recognition will forever be displayed in the National Infantry Museum’s OCS Hall of Fame.
“I was surprised, pleasantly surprised,” Jennings said. “It was great to go back to Fort Benning and participate and see the young candidates today, and see how well OCS is doing.”
But his journey wasn’t an easy one.
After graduating from Grand Canyon University in 1983, Jennings enlisted in the Army. On Feb. 1, 1984, also his 24th birthday, Jennings left for recruit training leaving behind his wife and their sick child.
Following basic training, Jennings, and his Family, moved to Fort Huachuca to train as an interrogator.
From there, he attended the German Language Course in 1985, which is how his journey to becoming an officer began. While attending language school Jennings met a young lieutenant who had attended OCS.
“I told him that I had taken the Officers Screening Battery test and that I had failed it,” Jennings said. “He asked me if I had ever seen my score and I told him ‘no.’ So I went and looked and I had actually passed the test … I started having a dream then to go to OCS.”
At his next assignment in Munich, Germany, he began putting his packet together for OCS. However, during the arduous process, the paperwork was lost.
“After months and months and months of doing all of the requirements for it to get to Headquarter Resources Command, and then to [have it] get lost, I just decided that I would stay as a noncommissioned officer,” Jennings said. “I loved being an NCO. By that time, I was a sergeant.”
But thanks to John Zizik, Jennings’ company commander at the time, Jennings’ OCS packet was found and put back on track.
One day in 1985, as Jennings rested at home with the flu, Zizik paid him a visit to let Jennings know he had been accepted to OCS.
“I had thought my OCS dream was gone because the packet had been lost and I had basically decided to quit trying to fight for it,” Jennings added. “That was a pretty big day.”
Jennings’ dream had finally come true. In 1988, he attended OCS and was commissioned as an infantry officer. In 1992, he then transitioned into military intelligence.
As he prepares for retirement next year, after nearly 32 years of service, Jennings said he often thinks about how blessed he has been to spend so much time in such a great organization.
“I think that one of the most important lessons that I learned as a lieutenant is that nobody gets out of bed in the morning and decides they are going to screw something up,” Jennings said. “Everybody gets up and there is hope for a day that they are going to do something important. As long as we can remember that, as leaders especially, and enable those young men and women to succeed, then were going to have a better organization … because at the end of the day it’s the Soldiers that make the Army run.”
Jennings’ military schools include Naval War College, 2011; Command and General Staff College, 2000; Combined Arms Staff School, 1997; Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course, 1993; NBC Officer, 1989; Airborne School, 1989; and Infantry Basic Officer Leader’s Course, 1989.
His military awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal. He has been awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the Parachutist Badge.
The two ways to be nominated into the Hall of Fame is by oneself or through team recommendation. Jennings was nominated by his coworker and longtime friend, Timothy Quinn, deputy director, Training Development and Support, Fort Huachuca.