American Veteran 01

Col. John James "Jack" Plunkett, US Army Ret.

July 16, 1931 ~ July 16, 2022 (age 91) 91 Years Old


JOHN J. ‘Jack’ PLUNKETT [Col.] [Ret] [PE] died on his 91st birthday, 16 July 2022 at his home in Niceville FL.  He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  He was born on 16 July 1931 in Harrison New YORK, the son of Frank and Ellen Hackman Plunkett. 

In his youth, he had a magazine delivery route, a newspaper route, raised pigeons and caddied often, and set pins in a bowling alley. He graduated from Harrison High School at age 16 because of the depression when his father lost his home.  He was an Eagle Boy Scout with three Palms and was awarded the Order of the Arrow.  He graduated from Clarkson College with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering at the age of 20, again because of the depression, and was commissioned as a Reserve 2nd Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers on 1 June 1952.   He was a member of the fraternity Lambda Iota, [Later Delta Upsilon].   Upon graduation he had a goal of writing a simple math book for engineers, but that never worked. 

He reported to active duty at Fort Belvoir VA, on 7 July 1952.  He exercised his DMG [Distinguish Military Graduate] for Regular Army, which was backdated to his 21st birthday.  He served in France and then as a Platoon Leader in Germany with the 5th and 1st Infantry Divisions.

On 16/17 October 1953 at Charny France, he married Cynthia “Tinny” A. Ellis, daughter of Elmon Ellis and Imogene Burtis.  He knew Tinny since December 1950, 71 years ago, as a student of Potsdam State Teachers College.

Later he served in Kansas, Colorado, and the Washington DC area.   He graduated after two years with a Master’s Degree in soil engineering with a minor in nuclear engineering from Iowa State College at Ames. He attended the Engineer Advanced Course, the Command and General College, and the Army War College.  

Next, he was assigned to Air Force Intelligence doing targeting work.  He was a Company Commander in Korea with the 76th Engineers.  He returned to Washington assigned to the Army Nuclear Power Program and was later the Assistant Exec to the Chief of Engineers and then as Assistant Exec to the Director of Civil Works.  Then he was assigned as a Battalion Commander of the 93rd Engineer Construction Battalion in Vietnam, followed by the Engineering School at Fort Belvoir, VA.  Later he was assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon.

Then, as an Army Corps of Engineer Colonel, he was assigned to the Panama Canal as Director of Engineering and Construction Bureau and was there for 18 years and was the last American Chief Engineer of the Panama Canal.  He retired in November 1980 from the Army after 30 years of service and took a Federal Civil Service position in the same job at the same desk for the next 12 years. 

Then in January 1993, after 41 years in the workforce, retired again and moved to their home in Niceville, FL, where he enjoyed specializing in dog herding and agility and researching genealogy.

He attributes his accomplishments to the Depression, WWII, his High School teachers and peers, and Fraternity peers, especially his WWII peers. and his devoted wife and family

      He is survived by his wonderful wife Tinny, of 68 years daughters Cynthia Clarbour, Jacqueline Ospina, and Imogene Pierce and three wonderful son in laws, seven grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, one dog “Johnnie” and nine birds.  He was proceeded in death by two sons Cary and John, his brother Frank, a nephew, and his parents



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