Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Richard P. Lessentine, USAFDecember 12, 1948 – September 9, 2019
Richard P. Lessentine, 70, passed away on September 9, 2019, at Mountain View Regional Medical Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Rick was born December 12, 1948, in Port Clinton, Ohio, to Bernard and Annabelle (Dress) Lessentine and lived in Lakeside on Lake Erie until his high school graduation. He attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
In 1968, Rick enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He went through survival schools at Fairchild AFB Washington and Jungle Survival School in the Philippines. On Sept. 1969, Rick was sent to Ban Me Thout, Vietnam, to train as a helicopter door gunner on the UH-1F/P with the 20th Special Operations Squadron Green Hornets. He was also a door gunner instructor and flight examiner. Rick was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with 2 Silver Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor, Army Presidential Unit Citation, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Medal with Palm. Rick left Vietnam Sept. 1970.
He met his wife, Kim, and they married in 1971, a marriage that lasted 48 years. Rick built the family home, grew pecans, sold firewood and raised two hardworking children, daughter Autumn and son Saben. Rick’s happy times were hunting with his children when they were young, helping with 4-H and FFA livestock projects, and instilling in his children a strong work ethic through example. In later years, Rick built a swimming pool for the family and taught 5 grandkids how to swim, grow a garden, and play billiards. He loved to gather family around the dinner table, talk about school, world history, and enjoy a ribeye grilled on his fire pit.
Rick was employed at Texas NM Power Co., for 23 years. He raised Angus X cattle in the mountains and desert canyons for 35 years. Ranching was a way of life Rick truly enjoyed. Rick was past President of Otero County Cattlemen’s Assoc. and Lincoln National Forest Allotment Owners Assoc. He was a board member of Otero County Grazing Board and NM Public Lands Council.
Rick had a strong faith in Jesus and his home was his church. He lived his life and left it with quiet dignity, patience, and remarkable courage. We were not ready to say goodbye to a brave soldier, husband, father, and grandpa. Our family will love and miss Rick forever.
Rick was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Ron.
Rick is survived by his wife Kim of Tularosa, NM, his daughter Autumn and her husband Brad Henson of Tucson, AZ, his son Saben and his lady Dawn VanArnam of Tularosa, NM, his 5 grandchildren, Garrett (Kayla) Hacker of Artesia, NM, Audra Hacker of Tucson, AZ, Sierra, Savannah, and Sydney Lessentine of Alamogordo, NM. Rick’s sisters in law, Sylvia Lessentine of Dayton, Ohio, and Kathy Bush of Elephant Butte, NM, one niece Aubrae Mulcock of Elephant Butt, NM, one nephew Joshua Sampson, Wasilla, AK, in addition to a gang of cousins and relatives.
A heartfelt thank you goes to: Saben Lessentine, Autumn Henson, Dawn VanArnam, OCEC, Fred Griffin, Richard W. June, Mike Guy, Jeff Ellis, Mark Cadwallader, Amalia Montoya, Orlando Cortez, Dario Samora, Ray Carrell family, Wayne Daugherty family, Aubrey Dobbs, Buddy Derrick, Garland and Rosy Frasier, and Bonard Batte family for lending a hand and keeping Rick and his horse, Cutta, headed up the road!
A private family gathering is planned at a special time.
Should friends desire, contributions may be made to Wounded Warrior Project at https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/donate or Cancer Foundation for New Mexico at https://cffnm.org/ or the charity of your choice.