Harold's Story


On May 5, 2015 Major General Harold I. "Hank" Small passed away peacefully at his home in Poquoson, Virginia. At his passing he had family and his dogs and cats with him.

Poquoson, Virginia became his adopted and beloved hometown in 1992, shortly after his retirement from the U. S. Army in 1986.

Hank was born March 11, 1932, in an apartment above the General Store in Plymouth, Maine which is still open for business today. No matter where else he lived or traveled throughout his life his heart remained in Plymouth and he returned there as often as his schedule would allow.

Hank lived his teenage years in Malden, Woburn and Burlington, Massachusetts, and traveled back to Plymouth to work on the family dairy farm when circumstances allowed.

Hank had an early desire to join the Army. Prior to his High School graduation he enlisted in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. Hank graduated from Burlington High School in Burlington, Massachusetts and immediately enlisted in the regular active Army.

Upon entering active duty he began a 37 year career rising through the ranks from Private (E-1) to Sergeant (E-5), and after attending Officer's Candidate School, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant (0-1) rising through the commissioned officer ranks to Major General (0-8).

Throughout his military career he remained a "soldier's soldier". He never lost sight of his time as an enlisted soldier or as a Non-Commissioned Officer. Hank knew soldiers and Non-Commissioned Officers were and are today the backbone of the U. S. Military.

While stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1952 he met Shirley R. Jernigan on a blind date set up by Shirley's sister, Jane Holden, now of Cameron, North Carolina. Within four months Hank and Shirley were married on July 9, 1952. Hank was Shirley's first kiss and her first date. They were together until his passing and will remain together forever in the same spirit of love and affection that drew them to each other in 1952.

The United States Army was Hank's first love. He served in the infantry, was a paratrooper, a ranger, an aviator and a logistician.

During his enlisted, Non-Commissioned and Commissioned Officer service he assumed ever increasing responsibly. He commanded at every level in his career and held staff assignments at all levels. His military career culminated in positions as Commanding General of the U.S. Army Transportation Center and Fort Eustis, Virginia; Commandant of the U.S. Army Transportation School; Chief of United States Army Transportation and Commanding General of the Military Traffic Management Command (now known as the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command).

While serving on the Department of Army Staff he worked on development of combat tactics for helicopters and the requirements for the Army's heavy lift helicopters.

While Commander at Fort Eustis in 1981 he served as the Defense Department Coordinator for the Yorktown Bicentennial Celebration. In that role he planned, coordinated and supervised elements from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps associated with the Bicentennial Celebration. Hank always felt privileged to have had a role in the Celebration for the victory at Yorktown which ended the Revolutionary War.

Hank was modest about his accomplishments but upon his retirement in 1986 he was one of the most highly decorated members of the U.S. Army Transportation Corps.

His military decorations for valor and exceptional performance of duty include: Three Silver Star Medals, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, five Distinguished Flying Cross Medals, Bronze Star Medal with Valor, three Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart, three Meritorious Service Medals, twenty-four Air Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, two Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, and the Good Conduct Medal.

His decorations for service include: The United Nations Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Five Vietnam Service Medals, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal First Class, Humanitarian Service Medal, Five Overseas Service Bars, American Campaign Medal, two National Defense Service Medals, United States Air Force Crewmember Badge.

His Unit Citations include: Presidential Unit Citation Army, two Valorous Unit Awards, Five Meritorious Unit Commendation, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, and Republic of Vietnam Fourragere.

He was also awarded the Senior Parachutist Badge, Master Aviator Badge, Army Staff Identification Badge.

The Chief of Army Transportation awarded The Ancient Order of Saint Christopher to Hank, for exemplary service and devotion to the United States Army Transportation Corps. This is the highest award the Transportation Corps can award to any member of the Regiment.

Hank was honored in 2005 with membership in the U. S. Army Transportation Corps Hall of Fame.

In August 2014 Hank was honored by the Town of Plymouth, Maine when the Town Selectmen passed a resolution recognizing his service to this country and directed that his name be placed on the Town of Plymouth Veteran's Honor Roll.

In October 2014 Hank was notified that the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command had created the "Major General Harold I. Small Award for the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command Battalion of the Year" to honor his legacy of leadership. The first award was given in April of 2015.

Hank was humbled yet very pleased and surprised by the recognition of his hometown and the last organization he commanded in the Army.

Hank served three combat tours of duty, one in Korea and two in Vietnam.

While in Vietnam, among other command and staff assignments, he had the privilege of commanding the 116th Assault Helicopter Company ("Hornets").

In 2014, while challenged with his last illness he insisted on attending the Reunion of the 116th. His call sign was "Hornet 6". Hank said the pilots and soldiers he had the privilege to command in the 116th were the bravest and most courageous he had ever known. He said they had "more guts than brains".

Given his love of the comrades in the 116th Assault Helicopter Company, Shirley Small is designating all members of the Hornets, past and present, as honorary pallbearers for the celebration of life Mass at the Regimental Chapel at Fort Eustis and the internment at Arlington.

Hank's military career, as with the careers of others, took him to all parts of the world and this country. Hank enjoyed the opportunity to travel and meet and work with people of all cultures. His trip to the South Pole was one of his most memorable.

After retirement from military service Hank served as the President of SATO, a government related international travel service. He also worked for Raytheon Corporation. While with Raytheon Hank served as the Director of Logistics for United Nations Peace-keeping Forces in Angola. Before full retirement he worked as a consultant on Logistic issues.

After deciding to completely retire he enjoyed being at home in Poquoson, Virginia with his wife and pets and spent every summer in Plymouth, Maine on the lake in a home built on land that had been part of his grandfather's dairy farm when he was born.

Hank loved Christmas and for sixteen years he sponsored an annual reception at his home in Poquoson to support the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. He reveled in the overwhelming response to the reception which grew each year; and in the fact that, for each year he hosted the event, hundreds of children would have a better Christmas. Hank believed strongly that especially at Christmas bringing a smile to a child's face was important.

Hank loved his immediate and extended family very much. His military comrades and friends were part of his extended family.

Hank is preceded in death by his father Harold B. Small, his mother Ruth M. Small and his brother William G. "Bill" Small of Burlington, Massachusetts; and his sister Patricia Ward of Westford, Massachusetts.

Hank is survived by his wife of 63 years, Shirley R. Small of Poquoson, Virginia; his son, Harold I. "Chip" Small, and his daughter-in-law, Nancy M. Small, of Lakewood Ranch, Florida; his son, Robert A. "Bob" Small; his son, Michael A. "Mike" Small, both of Newport News, Virginia; his daughter Cheryl A. Small of Poquoson, Virginia; and his granddaughters, Stacey S. Bossard of Jersey City, New Jersey and Gillian R. Small of Hoboken, New Jersey.

He is survived by his sister, Maureen Farrow and her husband Richard "Dick" Farrow; his sister Kathleen McQuilkin and her husband Laurence "Larry" McQuilkin; his sister-in-law, Anne Berger Small, all of Burlington, Massachusetts; his sister-in-law, Jane Holden of Cameron, North Carolina and his brother-in-law, James "Jim" Jernigan and his wife Hilde Jernigan of Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

He is also survived by his "Connecticut Cousins" and nieces and nephews too numerous to mention individually.

Hank's family wishes to acknowledge and thank his healthcare providers and caregivers that helped him fight his last illness and maximize his quality of life; these include but are certainly not limited to, Dr. David R. Jones, Dr. Jamie E. Chaft, and the staff at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center in New York City; Dr. C. Edward Rose, Jr. and the staff at the University of Virginia Hospitals; Dr. Thao P. Dang and the staff at the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center at the University of Virginia; Dr. Keith Taylor and the staff at TPMG Denbigh Family Medicine in Newport News, Virginia; the physicians and staff at Sentara CarePlex Hospital in Hampton, Virginia; Riverside Home Health, Riverside Private Duty and Riverside Hospice in Newport News, Virginia; the physicians and staff at St. Joseph's Hospital, Eastern Maine Medical Center and Gentiva Home Healthcare in Bangor, Maine and the physicians and staff at the Lafayette Family Cancer Center in Brewer, Maine. The healthcare and the care and concern given to Hank by all of you over the last year-and-a-half was exceptional and gave Hank a great quality of life and great comfort to his family.

The family wishes to acknowledge and give special thanks to the men and women of the Fire and Rescue Department for the City of Poquoson, Virginia. Their professionalism and caring at the times Hank and we as his family needed assistance was amazing. The Department could not have done better by or for him and we will always be in your debt.


There will be a visitation from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM at Peninsula Funeral Home on Friday, May 22, 2015.

The Mass to celebrate Hank's life will be at the Transportation Corps Regimental Chapel on Fort Eustis on Saturday, May 23, 2015 at 11:00 AM with a reception to follow at the Fort Eustis Club.

Hank's interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a date and time to be determined by Arlington. We will update with the Arlington information as soon as it is available.

There will also be a Mass to celebrate Hank's life, in Massachusetts near where he grew up, at St. Barbara's Catholic Church in Woburn, Massachusetts on June 13, 2015 at 10:00AM.

The addresses and contact numbers for the events are: Peninsula Funeral Home, 11144 Warwick Boulevard, Newport News, VA 23601, (757) 595-2415; Transportation Corps Regimental Chapel, 923 Lee Boulevard, Fort Eustis, VA 23604, (757) 878-1316; Fort Eustis Club, 2123 Pershing Avenue, Fort Eustis, VA 23604, (757) 878-5700; St. Barbara's Catholic Church, 138 Cambridge Road, Woburn, MA 01801, (781) 933-4130.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in Hank's honor to the following organizations or to any other charity that is close to your heart: The U.S. Army Transportation Museum Foundation, P. O. Drawer D, Fort Eustis, VA 23604 or The American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718.
Published in Bangor Daily News
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