Lieutenant Colonel Ernest "Ernie" "Tex" R. Lenart Jr. passed away April 15, 2011. There will be a Mass of the Resurrection said for him at Our Lady of the Mountains Church in Sierra Vista, Ariz., 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 10. Interment will be at the United States Military Academy, in West Point, N.Y.
Ernie was born Feb. 19, 1935, in West, to Ernest and Bessie Lenart. He grew up in Waco, where he attended elementary and high school. After graduation, he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1954. While Attending the Academy, he excelled in athletics, contributing greatly to the accomplishments of the Army football and wrestling programs. His proudest moment was when, as a first class man, he pinned his Navy opponent in the 157 pound class giving Army the points needed to win the meet and earning him the designation as the outstanding collegiate wrestler of the meet.
Upon graduating from the Academy, Mr. Lenart was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force
. His primary flight training was at Moore Air Base in Mission, Texas. The next six months he trained at Vance AFB in Enid, Okla. Upon completion of that training, he was awarded his pilot's wings. Later in his career, he qualified in and had flying assignments with the B-47 and B-52 Bombers. Ernie participated in the very first combat operation ever flown by the Strategic Air Command on 18 June 1965 when 30 B-52s hit targets in South Viet Nam with 28 planes returning safely to base.
After earning a Master of Science Industrial Engineering degree from Arizona State University, he was assigned to Davis Mothan Air Force base in Tucson, Ariz., where he was trained and qualified as an F-4 fighter pilot. Ernie was then posted back to South Viet Nam where he flew approximately 60 missions in the OV-10 as a forward air controller. He earned the distinctive command pilot wing. During his career, he logged approximately 4500 flight hours. He received numerous awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star
, and the Meritorious Service Medal.
After retirement, Ernie worked as the Director of Electric Power Production on the Columbia River in Washington State. He later moved to Sierra Vista, Ariz., in order to assist his mother. Ernie was an avid model airplane enthusiast, an active member of the Air Force Association, the Military Officers Association of America and a loyal member of the Our Lady of the Mountain congregation. Tex was a patriot in the finest sense of the word. He truly loved his duty, his honor, his country and his God. He wore his feelings on his sleeve, and those of us who knew him say "fine".
Ernie was preceded in death by his parents.
He is survived by his children, Greg Kirk and Debra.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Our Lady of the Mountains building fund or the charity of your choice.
Jensens Sierra Vista Mortuary, 520-378-4895
February 19, 1935 - April 15, 2011
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