Jack Delano Armentrout was born on May 8, 1933, at Whitmer, Randolph County, West Virginia. His parents were Orma Rolly Armentrout and Dora Evelyn Bennett Armentrout, who were married at Harman in Randolph County on April 16, 1925. They were the parents of five sons: Devaux, Tracey Fay, Jack Delano, Neil Harold, and Donald Kay.
Jack’s father, Orma, was born in 1902 and worked variously as a farmer (Randolph County) and truck log loader in a lumber mill (Preston County). The U.S. Federal Census of 1930 shows the family living in Randolph County, where Jack was born. The 1940 Census indicates they were living in Union, Preston County, with an inferred residence of Pendleton County in 1935. Orma died in 1970. Dora, Jack’s mother, was born in 1906 and died in 1984. Both are buried in the Eglon Cemetery in Preston County, West Virginia.
Private Jack Delano Armentrout entered the U.S. Army on November 24, 1952, and was assigned to Company I, the 188th Airborne Infantry Regiment [known in WWII as the Glider Infantry Regiment, and later as the Parachute Infantry Regiment when gliders were eliminated] of the 11th Airborne Division. A Kentucky death record for Jack states he had been a tool dresser in civilian life.
Ironically, Jack’s brother Devaux had served in the 11th Airborne (“The Angels”) in World War II. The 11th Airborne saw service in the Pacific, was involved in the planning for the invasion of Japan, and was charged with the oversight of the occupation of that country.
The 11th Airborne Division was activated at Camp Mackall, North Carolina, in February 1943. Relieved of its occupation role in 1949, it relocated to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where by 1950 it became intensely immersed in the training of personnel for the looming involvement in Korea. The history of the 188th Regiment is inextricably linked to that of the 187th, with both now headquartered at Fort Campbell. In July 1950 the Army designated the 187th as an Airborne Regimental Combat Team and ordered the unit to Korea. That unit was extremely under strength and was supplemented by the 511th. Restored to the Division in August 1950, “the famous 188th Glider Infantry Regt. of the 11th Abn., in the Pacific in World War II., was re-designated a Parachute Infantry Regiment” (Source: Leo Kocher, “A Brief History of the 11th Airborne Division,” accessed 7 May 2015, http://users.owt.com/leodonna/History11th.htm) and remained at Fort Campbell backing up their brothers-in-arms of the 187th.
Entering the Army at the age of 19 and assigned to the 188th, Jack was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, located astride the Kentucky-Tennessee border. With the outbreak of conflict in Asia and the persistent tension remaining in Europe, the 11th Division was held in a state of combat readiness. Were it not for a strange quirk of fate less than six months after his enlistment, Jack would undoubtedly have been deployed to Korea and have been in harm’s way in that area of the globe.
On March 17, 1953, Jack and five other soldiers were killed when the truck in which they were riding plunged into a creek on the Fort Campbell reservation. Jack suffered fractures to his skull and several occipital lacerations, as well as compound fractures to his right femur. Death was instantaneous.
Jack Delano Armentrout was laid to rest on March 21, 1953, near his parents and other family members in the Eglon Cemetery in Preston County, West Virginia.
We honor you, Jack Armentrout.