Lieutenant Col Jim Wendell Jernigan, age 70, passed away on July 28, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was born May 25, 1952, in Aurora, Colorado to Wendell and Louise (Brady) Jernigan. While James was a resident of Colorado Springs since 2016, he was formerly a resident of Japan and Thailand for many years. On November 11, 1975, James married the love of his life, Wanpen Sooksing, in Korat, Thailand. They had three children, James, Jessica, and Sujiga, as well as eight grandchildren.

Jim grew up in a military family and lived all over the world.  Upon his graduation from Bitburg High School, Germany, Jim enlisted into the United States Air Force in 1972 as a Communications and Navigation equipment repairman. During his enlistment he honorably served all over the globe.  He completed his BS in Management in 1983 from Park College Missouri.  Upon completion, he applied for and was selected to attend Officer Training School.   After commissioning he served as a C-130 maintenance officer for the next several years.  During this time, he held a variety of leadership positions, and was responsible for the safety, and security of multi-million-dollar aircraft, and hundreds of personnel.  However, that wasn’t enough for him.  Jim was determined to achieve his educational goals, and after attending Troy State University he received his MS in Educational Leadership in 1991. Shortly after surpassing his educational goals, he applied to and was accepted for the Pacific Air Force Exchange program.  He was assigned as the Exchange C-130 Maintenance Officer of the Royal Thai Air Force, Thailand.  During his tour, he became the first USAF officer to attend and graduate from the RTAF Air Command and Staff College where he received his diploma from His Majesty, the King of Thailand.  After graduation he was assigned to Yokota Air Base, Japan as the C-130 Chief of Maintenance.  Jim retired on August 23, 2007, after honorably serving the United States Air Force for 35 years, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After retiring he moved to Korat, Thailand from 2008-2016.  In 2016, he moved back to Colorado where he lived out the rest of his life.  He enjoyed bowling, corn hole, rock and roll, storytelling, spending time with the love of his life, and going to beer gardens in Japan and Thailand. 

Jim is survived by his loving wife: Wanpen Jernigan; his children: James Wendell Jernigan II (Heather), Jessica Hosbein (Benjamin), and Sujiga Sanders (Jonathan); his eight grandchildren, Tayvis, Jaisyn, Rubiana, Paxton, Violetta, Camryn, Dahlia, Rosabella, and his brothers: Thomas, and Phillip Jernigan. He was preceded in death by his parents, Wendell and Louise (Brady) Jernigan; his sisters: Linda Ray, and Karen Meyer.  A memorial service will be held at 10:00 am on Thursday, August 4, 2022, at the Shrine of Remembrance “American the Beautiful” Chapel, 1730 E. Fountain Blvd., Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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This Obituary Has 5 Condolences

  1. The Buckley SFB military Retiree Activities Office (RAO) would like to offer our sincere condolences and our gratitude for Lt Col Jernigan’s 35 years of distinguished service to our country in the Air Force. If you would like help with any matters related to casualty assistance, Defense Finance & Accounting Service, Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), Veterans Affairs (VA), etc. you can contact our office on Buckley SFB at 720-847-6693 or The RAO is staffed by volunteers, all military retirees themselves, and our sole purpose is to provide assistance to any military retirees and surviving spouses/family members with anything related to their military service and/or benefits, in particular during difficult times such as this. We are deeply sorry for your loss.

    Steve Young
    Lt Col, USAF, Ret
    Director, Buckley SFB RAO

  2. I had the pleasure of knowing Jim at Bitburg American High School, Bitburg, Germany in the early 70’s. He was such a funny and sweet guy. RIP dear Jim….ONCE A BARON…ALWAYS A BARON

  3. My heart is truly broken. I went to Bitburg High with Jim. I remember as if it were yesterday all the fun we had during the school year. I especially remember when I cheered for Jim during our sports season. Jim was definitely one of a kind. He never had anything bad to say about anyone or anything. He was one of the most sincere, honest and respected persons I know. Jim could smile and light up a room. Bitburg classmates are forever in your heart no matter where you are or where you go. It’s truly unexplainable however, it’s a bond like no other. It’s stronger than anyone of us can explain. I will miss Jim knowing he isn’t among us any longer. Even if you don’t talk or see a past classmate for some time, just knowing they’re out there somewhere is very comforting.

  4. I knew Jim from Bitburg, Germany…High School! When I needed a friend, Jim was there. Our friendship was totally unexpected but meant a lot to me!! It sounds like he continued that compassion throughout his life! We kept in touch for awhile after he went into the AF & then lost touch. Just found out a couple of years ago that he was in C/S. Wish we could have connected before his death. I send my condolences to the love of his life & family. RIP Jim??

  5. I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to the Jernigan family. I first met and knew Jim from Kadena AB, Okinawa, Japan. He was my trainer and supervisor on the F-4D aircraft. We later retrained to the F-15C/Ds as Avionics Specialist. We then PCS’d to Luke AFB, AZ. Jim was a straight up guy. He and his wife gave the greatest dinner parties. Our whole avionics family always showed up to them. Jim was the perfect host. The training, mentorship, and friendship he gave me was too immeasurable. I can honestly say that his positive influence and leadership was paramount in molding me to have a very successful USAF career. He always cared. It’s been some years since that time, but I still to this day give him the highest of props for pointing me in the right direction. RIP Jim, you got your wings!!!

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