William Ambrose Jenkins was born on November 2, 1917, in Kansas City, Mo., where he graduated from Central High School in 1936, and received an A.S. Degree from Kansas City Junior College in 1938.
Appointed a cadet in August 1938, he was graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn., with a B.S. Degree in Engineering and with a commission of Ensign on December 19, 1941, a few days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Because of the war emergency graduation was hastened a few months earlier than the normal completion of four years' cadetship.
During World War II, he first served as Watch Officer and Deck Officer on board the Cutter Onondaga out of Seattle, Wash. In October 1942, he took charge of 83-foot patrol vessels operating on coastal convoy duty and submarine hunting out of the Coast Guard Station at Sandy Hook, N.J. In the spring of 1943, he was assigned briefly to the Ordnance and Readiness Section at the 3rd Coast guard district office in New York as training officer for the picket patrol forces.
Assigned next to flight training at the Naval Air Station in Memphis, Tenn., and Pensacola, Fla., he received his wings from the latter in January 1944 with the designation of Coast Guard Aviator. During his first tour of duty as aviator at the Coast Guard Air Station, San Francisco, he piloted aircraft on air-sea rescue missions, was in charge of flight crews engaged in RACON calibrating and LORAN accuracy checks, and was in charge of the station's air-sea rescue boats. In addition, he served as navigator and watch officer.
While next stationed at the Coast Guard Air Station, Brooklyn, N.Y., from June 1946 to October 1949, he served as Assistant Operations Officer and Acting Flight Commander. That was followed by a stint as Executive Officer, Operations Officer and Acting Flight Commander at the Coast guard Air Detachment in Argentia, Nfld., which supplied the aircraft for the annual International Ice Patrol.
He next was stationed at Washington, D.C., as Personal Aide and Pilot to the Commandant of the Coast Guard from July 1950 to October 1954. At that time he was ordered to Hawaii where he first served as Watch Officer and as Operations Officer as well as Executive Officer at the Coast Guard Air Detachment on Barber's Point until July 1956. He then served as Chief, Search and Rescue Division and as Senior Controller of the Rescue Coordination Center at the 14th Coast Guard District Office in Honolulu until August 1957.
While next stationed at the Coast guard Academy for four years, the then Commander Jenkins served as Head of the Navigation and Aviation Department as well as Assistant Commandant of Cadets. In July 1961, he assumed command of the Coast Guard Air Detachment at San Juan, P.R., to which was added the duty of Section Commander, Greater Antilles Section, in January 1963. In February of 1964, he was named Commander of the Greater Antilles Section, which includes command of the Coast Guard Base and Captain-of-the-Port Office at San Juan and the role of Search and Rescue Coordinator in that sector.
In August 1964, he returned to Washington to enroll at the National War College. After graduating in June 1965, he became Chief, Law Enforcement Division and Program Manager in the Office of Operations at Headquarters. While in that post he became intensely involved in the pollution control problems. Some of his efforts in this respect included serving as Chairman of an interagency Oil Spillage Study Group to explore means of coping with major oil pollution problems, sponsoring an investigation of sunken tankers as potential sources of pollution, representing the United States at International meetings of the North Sea countries on Oil Pollution Contingency Planning in Hamburg, Germany - 1967 and 1968. He represented the Coast Guard on a study panel which produced the major report called, "Oil Pollution - A Report to the President", and served as member of an interagency group which developed the current National Multiagency Oil and Hazardous Materials Contingency Plan. For those and other achievements in that field he was awarded the Coast Guard Commendation Medal in 1968.
He was presented a Gold Star in lieu of a second Coast Guard Commendation Medal for meritorious achievement in the performance of duty while serving at Headquarters as Alternate Department of Transportation Member of the Committee on Multiple Use of the Coastal Zone of the National Council of Marine Resources and Engineering Development from August 1967 to June 1969.
He served as Deputy Chief, Office of Operations at Headquarters from June 1968 to June 1969, when he was transferred to Boston, Mass. to become Chief of Staff of the First Coast Guard District.
By nomination of the President on June 5, 1970 and approval of the Senate the then CAPT Jenkins was appointed two star flag officer to rank as permanent Rear Admiral from July 1, 1970. With that appointment he was named to the post of Commander, 9th Coast Guard District, Cleveland, Ohio, which covers Coast Guard activities in the Great Lakes region.
In early April 1972, RADM Jenkins returned to Headquarters to assume the post of Chief, Office of Operations. On June 7, 1974, he assumed the duties of Superintendent, U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
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