Lee A. Mongeon

  • Colonel
  • Vietnam


Colonel Lee Mongeon was born in 1929 in Worcester, Massachusetts. He attended Samuel Gorton High School in Warwick, RI, where he participated in football, basketball, and baseball as an all-state pitcher. He entered Rhode Island State College and pledged to Phi Mu Delta where he was the house manager. He finished ROTC and received an Army commission upon graduation in 1952.  His dream to fly led him to the Air Force where he was accepted to the Aviation Cadets program.  

LT Mongeon started his flying career at Greenville AFB in Mississippi in 1952 which led to multi-engine schooling at Vance AFB in Enid, Oklahoma, flying B-25s.  He was assigned to the 86th Bomb Squadron, 47th Bomb Wing stationed at RAF Sculthorpe, England flying the B-45. The 86th mission was to bomb Russia in case of war using nuclear bombs.  Promoted to Captain, he assisted in the development of improvements in tow reel systems and target designs.  Captain Mongeon then moved to Stewart AFB Newburgh, New York, with the Defense System Evaluation Squadron, Air Defense Command. Here the mission was to carry heavy generators that ran electronic jammers which could totally confuse Soviet air defense radar and early warning systems. His duties as Commander involved 26 aircraft and 121 technicians.  

Captain Mongeon next flew radiological sampler configured B-57s out of Kirtland AFB collecting samples from nuclear detonations. In 1964, Lee moved to the 9th Weather Recon Wing at McClellan AFB in Sacramento where he became the Wing Standardization Officer. In 1967, Lee, now a Major, was assigned to Yokota AFB in Japan.  He again became the Squadron Aircrew Standardization Officer. This recon squadron’s primary mission was to detect nuclear testing by Russia and China, flying on the periphery of both countries. 

Now LTC Mongeon was assigned to Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam.  He reported to Detachment 1 of the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing where, as the Detachment Operations Officer, he planned, managed, and directed the air combat operations of highly specialized RB-57 aircraft equipped with advanced photo and infrared reconnaissance systems.  Lee and crews monitored Vietcong and NVA troop movements, supply dumps and camps, ship activity and the battle damage assessment of US fighter bombings. 

LTC Mongeon was promoted to Colonel and became a commander at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls Montana. His command consisted of 20 EB-57s, and 560 personnel involved in air defense of North America.  The Colonel retired in 1978.  Col Mongeon amassed 6,220 flying hours, 285 of which were combat hours, having been awarded Master Aviator Wings.  Col Mongeon’s decorations include:  Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (2), Air Medal (8), and Air Force Commendation Medal, among other ribbons and awards.  

After retirement, Lee bought Holter Lake Lodge in Wolf Creek, Montana where he and his wife Terry and children Dayl, Tracy, and Kim ran a restaurant and motel.  Lee was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and the Montana Pilots Association. Lee and his wife Terry, both graduates of the University of Rhode Island, continued to support the University by sending two of their three children to URI, and by donating to the university throughout their lives. Lee enjoyed woodworking, skiing, tennis, and photography.  

COL Lee Mongeon spent his entire life serving his community and country. His exemplary devotion to duty and outstanding leadership are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his family, and the University of Rhode Island.