W. Buford Jennings (58C)
Award: 2003 Distinguished Achievement Award
Employer: Jennings Funeral Home
Achievements: In the last few years we have become very familiar with the term “laser guided missiles.” We have watched on television as these missiles found their target after being launched from a ship hundreds of miles away. But how many of you were aware that the laser guided missiles had a direct connection to Berry College? Specifically to a man who graduated from Berry in 1958?
Dr. W. Buford Jennings began his career as a student trainee with the United States Army Missile Command during the summers that he was a student at Berry. In 1958 he graduated from Berry with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physics & mathematics. In 1961 he received a Master of Science degree from Emory University. Buford was personally involved in the early testing of laser guided missiles. Over the years, Dr. Jennings was actively involved in many phases of laser development and testing. He worked with a group whose task was to build laser devices of various types and work in cooperation with doctors from various government and private organizations to test the lasers for use in the medical field. The first ever use of a laser in surgery was performed in the laboratory he worked in during 1967.
He has served as Deputy to a series of military directors. From January 1990 until his retirement in 1993 he served as associate Director for the Technology, Research Development and Engineering Center. In 1993 he was awarded the Army’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award.
Dr. Jennings states that without Berry and all it has meant to him, he doesn’t know where he’d be today. He explains that Berry provided the opportunity for him to go to college and obtain a degree in physics. Commenting on the value of his student work experience, Dr. Jennings says, “The educational preparation plus the work ethic and standards of personal responsibility instilled in me by the Berry program provided a solid foundation which served me well in my 34 years of employment by the U.S. Army.”
Dr. Jennings has retired from his service to the Army and owns and operates the Jennings Funeral Home in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Dr. Jennings also operates a beef cattle farm. Regarding his current activities, Dr. Jennings states, “I enjoy this very much and I believe the desire to serve in this manner is a direct result of my Berry experience and the tradition of ‘not to be ministered unto but to minister.’”