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A photo of Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay, Wisconsin

Col. Les Rentmeester

St. Norbert HS 1937
2019 Academic Division: Military

Photo of Les Rentmeester

Les was born in 1919, the son of Andrew and Anna Rentmeester. After attending SNHS, he received a Bachelor of Science from USAF Institute of Technology, Dayton, Ohio, a Master of Business Administration from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., and Doctor of Public Administration from NOVA University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Les enlisted in the Army Air Corps and flew a combat tour as pilot of a B-17 over Germany in 1943-1944. During his United States Air Force aviation career, he developed new battle techniques at Eglin Air Force Base, flew as a test pilot at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, trained Turkish pilots in photoreconnaissance, flew in the Berlin Airlift and initiated the U.S. satellite program. At Patrick Air Force Base, he ensured that NASA launches from Cape Canaveral were executed safely.

After retiring from his career in the Air Force, he wrote a college textbook on Federal Government financing and was a professor for a dozen years at the University of Florida and NOVA University.

President Harry Truman was very concerned about the USSR taking over many countries and threatening Greece and Turkey. As a result, Les spent a tour in Turkey and then put in charge of US Air Force Reconnaissance Research and Development in the Pentagon. One of three major developments he initiated in 1953 was the earth satellite, which provided critical intelligence and the GPS.

As a member of the Melbourne, Fla., Library Board, he successfully fought for funds for a new library in the African American section of the city. The governor of Florida appointed him to a committee that recommended an improved city and county government in the state.

Les has written eight books on local history around Green Bay, such as “TOMAH,” “The Flemish in Wisconsin,” “Early Duck Creek History,” “The Wisconsin Creoles” and “The Wisconsin Fur Trade People.” He has authored numerous magazine stories such as “Open Skies Policy and the Origin of the U.S. Space Program,” “Big Brothers and Little Friends,” “Help from an Unexpected Source” and “Yes…       We Are Going Back to Berlin.”

Les was recognized as an NDA Distinguished Alumnus in 2014.

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