Originally Published: June 21, 2015 6 a.m.
LtC. Leonard C "Lennie" Lee passed away June 5, 2015, after a lengthy illness. LtC. Lee was residing at the Community Living Center of the Northern Arizona VA facility.
He is survived by his most loving and devoted wife, Lorraine.
LtC. Lee was born in Portland, Maine, on May 22, 1939. His parents were Elizabeth (Betty Timberlake) and Morgan Lee. He graduated from Deering High School (1957) and from Hebron Academy (1958), where he was an All American swimmer and the recipient of the Hebron Cup. Lennie, as he liked being called, received an appointment to the Air Force Academy from Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine. Failing the eyesight requirements, he chose to follow his grandfather and enrolled at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Upon completing his freshman year, he received his second appointment to the Air Force Academy. Even though meeting all the requirements he decided to complete his undergraduate degree at Bowdoin College, where he received his BS in Mathematics in 1962.
LtC. Lee then joined the United States Air Force and completed his OTS as a Navigator at Lackland AFB in Texas. He was assigned to fly in C-130's, where he distinguished himself as one of the USAF top navigators. Some of his distinctions in the Air Force included: Standard Evaluation Officer as a Captain during the Viet Nam War; also in Viet Nam, Capt. Lee planned, executed and flew as Lead Navigator of the initial element of the C-130E Task Force dropping friendly Paratroopers in the first combat assault to be staged in Viet Nam. This mission was called "Operation Junction City" and it was the biggest military air-drop since Operation Market Garden in WWII. Operation Junction City is still considered one of the most highly successful aerial flight missions in the history of the United States Air Force and for which Capt. Lee was awarded both the Distinguished Flying Cross and the USAF Air Medal; USAF Exchange Officer to the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Major, completing a Master's Degree in Navigation, teaching and researching with the RCAF, latest navigational technology worldwide; assigned to the Air Force Academy to write and teach all navigation and Global Navigation courses and to head AF Academy competitive Glider Flight Team; as LtC., was Logistics Officer at Vandenberg AFB, worked with Pt. Magoo Naval Air Station and United States Secret Service to plan and execute (if necessary) escape strategy for President and Mrs. Reagan while at their ranch in Santa Barbara, California. LtC. Lee served over 21 years in the USAF and retired in 1983.
As a civilian, Lennie worked for a Hughes Air Craft Company subsidiary - Santa Barbara Research Center, working in Human Resources/Management Training. He and wife Lorraine, who worked for Hughes Aircraft Company Corporate Offices, met over the telephone, married in 1985, and moved to Prescott, Arizona, in 1989. Lennie was hired by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to write and teach navigation and Global Navigation courses for the Air Sciences Dept. Lennie ended his career as Director of Cooperative Education and retired after 15 years from ERAU.
At his time of passing, Lennie and Lorraine had resided in Prescott for 26 years and celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary this year.
Lennie is also survived by a sister; three natural sons; and one stepson from previous marriages; and 12 grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life service with Full Military Honors will be at 2 p.m. on June 29, 2015, in the VA Chapel at the Northern Arizona VA facility, 500 N. SR89, in Prescott. Donations in remembrance of Lennie can be made to the Susan J. Rheem Adult Day Center, 878 Sunset Ave., Prescott, AZ 86305.
Please visit www.heritagemortuary.com to sign Lennie's online guestbook. Service entrusted to Heritage Memory Mortuary.
Information provided by survivors.