Former White House deputy counselor James E. Jenkins testified yesterday that he bluntly warned Army and other government officials at a meeting in May 1982 that he would not stand for "any footdragging" on a defense contract for the Wedtech Corp.

"I summed it up by saying I was not going to stand for any {expletive}," Jenkins said in U.S. District Court here.

Jenkins, a veteran Reagan aide from California who was chief deputy to presidential counselor Edwin Meese III in 1982, was called as a prosecution witness at the conflict-of-interest trial of former White House aide Lyn Nofziger and Mark Bragg, Nofziger's partner in a Washington consulting firm.

A longtime friend of Nofziger, Jenkins said he first heard of Wedtech, then called the Welbilt Electronic Die Corp., about mid-April 1982 at a meeting in his White House office with Bragg and Stephen Denlinger, head of the Latin American Manufacturers Association, of which Wedtech was a member.

Nofziger and Bragg had been hired as lobbyists for Wedtech a month or two earlier.

Jenkins said his two visitors described the South Bronx firm as an "excellent candidate" for an Army engine contract under the Small Business Administration's minority-business program.

Jenkins said that it struck him as a worthy cause and that he adopted it as a personal project because of his experience as a state official in California where "minority businesses had never been able to get the assistance they deserved."

"It was an opportunity to do it right," Jenkins said.

White House records and other documents introduced by independent counsel James C. McKay indicated that Meese and Jenkins had been apprised of Wedtech's problems earlier.

In a note to Meese April 8, Nofziger had told him that "it would be a blunder" not to give Wedtech the contract because of Army opposition. Nofziger suggested that President Reagan or Meese step in to help the company.

A carbon copy of that note was to go to Jenkins. A typewritten postscript evidently added at the White House said: "Jim, please see that Ed sees this." And a handwritten notation by a Meese aide said the office already had a Welbilt file that Meese may have taken home with him.

"Our Wellbilt {sic} file is missing (even those under possible other headings!)," Meese aide Mitchell Stanley said in the note addressed to Jenkins as "JJ." "I seem to remember everything being pulled together in Dec.-Jan. EM {Ed Meese} may have at home. (We will continue to look)."

Under questioning by Nofziger's lawyer, Robert Plotkin, Jenkins said he did not recall having seen the April 8 note until investigators showed it to him last year.

He repeated that he did not become involved until Bragg and Denlinger told him about April 15 that the Army was insisting that Wedtech "have a financial capability as well as a technical capability."

In a memo April 16, 1982, that he sent to White House aide Craig L. Fuller, Jenkins wrote that "Lyn Nofsiger {sic} has asked Ed Meese to award this contract to Welbilt instead of to Chrysler. The Bronx needs the jobs. I think that, instead, Ed (by memo) or you, directly should simply ask for a status report . . . . Quite possibly, we should do nothing at all. Do you have existing guidance on this type of thing?"

Fuller wrote back the next day, saying, "I strongly recommend that no White House action be taken."

Jenkins, however, said that he decided to try to put together "a financing package" before the Army could pull the program out of SBA jurisdiction and that "the only way {to do that} was to call the concerned parties together." He said he told Meese of his decision to help Wedtech "within a day or so" of the meeting with Bragg and Denlinger.

Meese "just wanted to know if it would interfere with anything else I was doing," Jenkins testified. "I said no. He said okay."

In a note April 22, 1982, to newly installed SBA Administrator James Sanders, Jenkins asked for a private briefing, saying "Ed Meese has asked me to look into the Welbilt problem . . . which has been too long on the back burner." Jenkins said yesterday that he was just name-dropping.

"I didn't know Mr. Sanders, and I invoked the name of Ed Meese to make sure I had his attention," Jenkins said.

The head-knocking session at which Jenkins presided was held May 19, 1982, in a White House basement dining room with Bragg, Denlinger, Wedtech executives and officials of the Army, the SBA and several other agencies.

Jenkins said he told participants that he didn't want to argue prices and cut off Army officials when they tried to justify their position. He said he didn't want "footdragging" and announced to the group at large that "if they were pulling this stunt," he would talk to them or their superiors.

"I reminded them," Jenkins concluded, "that the president had stood on a corner in the South Bronx" during the 1980 campaign "and promised to do what he could to help the people up there."

The SBA promised to ante up $3 million, Jenkins recalled, and Wedtech lowered its price May 20 to $25.9 million. But he said that the Army kept moving at "a snail's pace" and that, in telephone calls with Bragg May 27-28, Jenkins suggested that the Army might be persuaded to issue a "letter of intent" that Wedtech could use in obtaining supplemental financing.

Indicted on four felony counts of illegal lobbying at the White House within a year after his resignation there in January 1982, Nofziger was accused in one count of breaking the law with a letter May 28, 1982, to Jenkins, asking his help in securing the letter of intent.

Defense attorneys contended that it should have been sent to the Army and that Denlinger fouled up the signals. Jenkins said he took no action.

"So I take it, Mr. Jenkins, that you were not influenced by this letter?" Plotkin asked. "It didn't tell you anything you didn't already know at the time and you didn't do anything to get a letter of intent or follow up on it?"

"No," Jenkins agreed after a long pause.