Francis Lester "Les" Hesse, retired Captain (USN), Orleans Parish Teacher, and Hospice Volunteer, died September 25, 2013 at home. He was 81 years old. Preceding him in death were his loving wife, Betty Jean Hesse of New Orleans; his son, Steven L. Hesse; parents, Helen R. and Walter F. Hesse; and brothers, Walter L. and Arthur L., all of Struttgart, Arkansas.
Captain Hesse, a native of Ulm, Arkansas, graduated from Holly Grove, AR High, Little Rock Capital City Business College, Kansas State University (BS), and the University of Southern California (MSED). A veteran of the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy serving over 33 years, he retired at the NAS, Belle Chasse, La. in 1986 and lived in New Orleans for the past 31 years. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1952 serving at Lackland AFB, TX, Lowry AFB, Denver, Colorado, K-9 Pusan, Korea, Tooele Ordance Depot and Hill AFB, in Utah. While in the USAF, he was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal with 2 bronze stars, United Nations Service Medal with 1 bronze star, plus other South Korean awards.
Following his release from the USAF in 1956, but remaining an active reservist and as a student using the G.I. Bill at Kansas State he was Sr. Dorm Counselor graduating in three years and was assigned Assistant Dean of Men in 1959/1960. He was selected for Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges in 1959/60, a member of the Gold key Honor Society for Junior & Senior Men, a member of the Wesley Foundation and the religious Activities Counsel, Psi Chi Honor Society, and was a member of the Delta Mu Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. Following graduation in 1960 with a BS in Psychology, he joined the U.S. Navy and completed Pre-Flight, NAS Pensacola, Florida being commissioned Ensign. Various assignments included NAS, Patuxant MD, USS Enterprise, NAS Alameda, CA, NSA, New Orleans, U.S. Forces Japan, Tokyo, JP and NAS New Orleans. While attached to US-FORCES Japan in 1978, he was commended by Rear Admiral Lando Zeck as the Senior Debriefer of a P3 Orian crew that ditched and was rescued by the Russian Navy off Petropavlovsk, USSR. On commissioning in Norfolk, VA, the USS Enterprise made a round the world cruise exhibiting U.S. nuclear power while entering the Vietnam Conflict in 1965. His Navy awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Honorary Admiral in the Texas Navy from Gov. Mark White, among other citations and awards.
During his military career, he was a student, professor, and Dept. Head at The Armed Forces Air Intelligence Training Center, Lowry AFB, Denver, CO. He was a graduate of the National Cryptologic School, National Security Agency, Washington DC, and was assigned Intelligence Officer on the USS Enterprise, briefing and debriefing air strikes in North and South Vietnam. He was a member of Operation Homecoming escorting and debriefing Navy POWS as they returned from Hanoi in 1993. Captain Hesse 's later duties involved training and administration of all Reserve Intelligence personnel drilling in the 8th Naval District and later in Reserve Intelligence Area 7 which included Reserve Intel personnel in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas , Louisiana, New Mexico, Mississippi, and Florida. During duty in Japan, Captain Hesse attended the University of Southern California campus in Tokyo where he was awarded Honor Student earning a Masters Degree in Education.
Following his retirement from his military career of 33 years as both enlisted and officer, he attended the University of New Orleans where he was certified to teach K-12 grades in Special Education (ED/BD). While at UNO, he was selected in both Kappa Delta Pi and Phi Delta Kappa National Honor Societies in Education. He again retired after 15 years, ending his teaching career with the New Orleans Public School System in 2002. He continued as a volunteer in Hospice over 15 years and became a mentor of newly hired Special Education teachers in the area of emotionally disturbed and behavior disordered students.
Survivors include a daughter, Valerie, three sisters, Helen Knoll, of Stuttgart, AR, Ruby Dunlap, of Tacoma, WA, and Marian Worcester, Destrehan, Louisiana, two bothers-in-law, John Valaske, of Kenosha, WI, and Roger Worcester, of Destrehan, Louisiana, along with many nephews and nieces.
Following cremation, a memorial service will be held at St. Sepahn Lutheran Church, 6336 Berkley Drive, Algiers, La. with notice to be announced. Express condolences at www.westsideleitzeagan.com