20 Special Operations Squadron (14 S.O. Wing)
Air Force Cross,Distinguished Flying Cross with V device with 3 oak leaf clusters
- ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
born 30.8.1929 San Gabriel,California
son of Joaquin and Aurora Gonzales
entered service 9.11.1950
aircraft radio mechanic
Aviation Cadet Program 12.3.1952
commissioned 2Lt USAF 14.1.1953
pilot wings February 1955
4750 Air Defense Squadron October 1955 - January 1957
4 Fighter Interceptor Squadron February 1957 - July 1960
Griffiss AFB,New York November 1961 - July 1963
Wiesbaden AB and Lindsey AS,West Germany July 1963 - July 1966
2750 Air Base Wing August 1966 - December 1967
20 SOS (pilot) April 1968 - April 1969
Missile Support Aircraft Branch (4392 Aerospace Support Group) May 1969 - retired
retired 30.9.1971 (Lt Colonel)
married Mavi Gonzales (1932-2018)
died 13.3.2017 Santa Maria,California
Santa Maria Cemetery,Santa Maria,Santa Barbara County,California
Leonard A. Gonzales, Lt. Col USAF (Ret), 87, died surrounded by his loving family on Monday, March 13, 2017, in Santa Maria, California. Leonard was the youngest of three children, born August 30, 1929, in San Gabriel, California to Joaquin and Aurora Gonzales. Leonard is survived by his wife Mavi Gonzales, and six daughters, Diana Lemke of San Luis Obispo, Patricia Moffitt (Mitchell) of Merritt Island, Florida, Mavi Ann Brockway (Dennis) of Yorba Linda, Kathryn Fuerch (Wes) of Santa Maria, Laura Weidemann (Fred) of Redlands, Susan Hottinger (Ski) of Livermore and 15 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. He is predeceased by his father Joaquin, mother Aurora, brother Henry and his sister Elvira.
While attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on November 9, 1950, and was a B29 Navigator Observer. He then entered the Aviation Cadet Program. Leonard earned an Associate in Arts from Santa Maria Junior College (now known as Allan Hancock College) and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Maryland. He also received a Master of Arts in School Counseling from Chapman College and a Master of Public Administration from California State University, Bakersfield. He then pursued his Doctoral Degree in the field of Economic studies.
Leonard served 21 years in the U. S. Air Force as a pilot and retired in 1971. During his U.S. Air Force career, he received four Distinguished Flying Crosses, 10 Air Medals, two Vietnam Crosses for Gallantry and one Silver Star with a Palm. While on active duty in Vietnam as a helicopter Gunship Commander, assigned to the 20th Special Operation Squadron, he was awarded the Air Force Cross for extraordinary heroism for the military operation near Duc Co, the Republic of Vietnam on November 26, 1968. The military operation was recently declassified and honored with a permanent museum exhibit called "Miracle on the River" at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Leonard was attributed with saving the lives of a six-man Special Forces Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol that was overrun by well-armed hostile forces behind enemy lines. The President of the United States of America authorized the award of the Air Force Cross which is the second highest military award for his suburb airmanship, aggressiveness, and extraordinary heroism.
Leonard was employed at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as the Relations with School Coordinator from 1972 to 1985 where he encouraged and guided many students, including his six daughters, to aspire to a higher education. In 1985 he began his employment at California State University, Bakersfield as an Admissions Officer and Financial Aid Counselor, until his retirement in 2000.
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