Lt Col Barry Lee Bonwit, passed away on April 20, 2022 and his beloved wife and family sent a very substantial donation to the ACA in his name. Colonel Bonwit, whose member number was #103, loved the Air Commando Association and served with honor and distinction as a “Quiet Professional” anytime-anywhere. The ACA is truly grateful to the Bonwit Family.
Lt. Col. Barry Lee Bonwit, age 95, passed away peacefully at his home on Perdido Bay on April 20, 2022 of natural causes. He is predeceased by a son, Mark Christian and leaves behind his beloved wife of 52 years Roberta Ann; a son, Christopher Lee (wife Chanjira); daughter, Lisa Lee; two grandchildren, Katie and William, and a favorite niece, Renee Zahourek (Jon). Colonel Bonwit was born May 13, 1926 in Baltimore, Maryland. He grew up on Miami Beach, Florida and at the age of 16 he enlisted in the Air Force October 1943. He served as a B-17 tail gunner during the latter part of World War II. In July 1946, he was honorably discharged, only to return and gain admission to the Aviation Cadet Program. On October 12, 1950, he graduated and was assigned to the Air Rescue Service where he spent the next seven years navigating amphibious aircraft in Saudi Arabia and Hawaii. Concluding this tour of duty, in 1957, Colonel Bonwit attended Stanford University under the Air Force Institute of Technology, earning a degree in International Relations. B-52 Bombardment training in 1959 blossomed into a navigator assignment at Eglin Air Force Base until 1961, and a radar navigator position at Homestead AFB, FL flying B-52H aircraft until 1966. He attended A-26 navigator training school and was assigned to the 609 Air Commando Wing in Thailand. Colonel Bonwit was later stationed at Maxwell AFB in 1971 researching the VietNam war. In October 19711, he was assigned radar navigator on the B-52 in the 46th Bomb Squadron and 3 years later he became the Air Weapons officer until his retirement in August 1975. In the course of his career, Colonel Bonwit has flown a total of 212 combat missions 75 of which were staged over North Vietnam. 4 operations were flown over Hanoi as part of Linebacker II. He accrued over 7,700 flying hours in aircraft including the B-36, A-26, SA16, B-52, B-29, B-17. Colonel Bonwit also gained counter insurgency experience in SE Asia. Among numerous awards Colonel Bonwit wore the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, the Meritorius Service Medal, Combat Readiness Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and the Vietnam Service Medal with one battlestar. Upon retiring to Perdido Bay near Pensacola, Colonel Bonwit and his wife Roberta, traveled all over the globe. He also received a Masters in International Relations from Troy University. His favorite organizations were the Air Commando Association, the Air Rescue Association, Stanford Alumni Association, Air Force Navigators Association and Friends of Perdido Bay. A service and burial will be held at a later date. Remembrances may be sent to the Air Commando Association, P.O. Box 7, Mary Esther, FL 32569-0007.
Published in Pensacola News Journal – Posted online on September 02, 2022
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