More detail on this person: 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.
At the center of Leonard's life was his Catholic faith where he volunteered on the Finance committee and headed the hospitality ministry at Saint John Neumann Catholic Church. Leonard also was an active member of the Santa Maria Elks Club where he served as a Greeter. Additionally, he was very committed to improving his community through the youth and served on the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club in Santa Maria, California.
When asked what his greatest achievement of his life was, Leonard replied that his love for his wife, six daughters and their families guiding them to a better life through education, and the lasting sacrament of marriage to his beautiful and loving wife, Mavi of 64 years. He was very humble in his own success but was never silent about the pride he had for his family's accomplishments.
We will always listen for his voice, pushing us to be better than what is expected and pressing us forward to the next chapter for more knowledge and education. We will miss his unending guidance, ready smile, and enthusiasm for life.
Rosary will be held at 7:00 pm on Friday, March 24, 2017, Chapel of Magner-Maloney Funeral Home, 600 East Stowell Road, Santa Maria, California, 93454. Mass at 9:30 am on Saturday, March 25, 2017, will be held at Saint John Neumann Catholic Church, 966 West Orchard, Santa Maria, California, 93458. Procession to 1501 South College Drive, Santa Maria, California, 93454 immediately following Mass.
Published in Bakersfield Californian on Mar. 19, 2017
Sadly I pass along the news that Leonard (Len) "Speedy" A. Gonzales made his final flight on 13 March 2017.
Len was a member of our "Green Hornet" family. An Air Force Cross recipient for his participation as a USAF UH-1P "Green Hornet" gunship pilot involved in the 26 Nov. 1968 mission to rescue a MACV SOG team in which the UH-1F slick pilot, 1st Lt. James P. Fleming was awarded the Medal of Honor. This mission, known as "The Miracle On The River" is depicted in the "Green Hornet" diorama display in the National Museum Of The USAF in Dayton, OH.
God rest the soul of Leonard A. Gonzales. God comfort and protect the Gonzales family.
From: Jim Burns
Burial information: Santa Maria Cemetery, Santa Maria, CA
This information was last updated 03/29/2017
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