Cover photo for Garland M. Lessley's Obituary
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Garland M. Lessley

January 29, 1945 — June 16, 2023

Garland M. Lessley

Major Garland M. Lessley completed more than twenty-six years in the United States Air Force. His final assignment was as Assistant Chief, Operating Location M, Air Force Civil Engineering Support Agency, Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado.

Born January 29, 1945, in Moberly, Missouri, Major Lessley graduated from Stephen Decatur High School, Decatur, Illinois in 1963. Garland married Connie May Garner. Before entering the Air Force in 1965, he attended Moberly Junior College, Moberly, Missouri. After completing Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, he spent several tours as an enlisted security policeman, including one at Utapao Air Field, Thailand, in direct support of the conflict in the Republic of Vietnam. Major Lessley graduated from Florida State University, Canal Zone Branch, with post graduate work at Nova University, Miami, Florida, while stationed at Howard Air Force Base, Panama. He then returned to the United States; culminating his enlisted career in 1979 as a Master Sergeant in charge of Administration and Reports, Headquarters Military Airlift Command, Security Police Directorate, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

After commissioning through Officers Training School at Medina Air Base, Texas in 1979, Major Lessley completed Disaster Preparedness Technical Training School at Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado. He was recognized as a Distinguished Graduate of each school. He was then assigned as the Chief, Disaster Preparedness, 96th bomb Wing, 96 Combat Support Group, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

His next assignment took him to Griffis Air Force Base, New York, as the Disaster Preparedness Chief, 416th Combat Support Group, where he supported a major Strategic Air Command Bomber and Tanker Wing, as well as a Tactical Air Command unit, North American Aerospace Defense Region and Rome Air Development Center tenant units. He also supported fielding the air launched cruise missile during that time. In 1983, he was assigned as the Assistant Chief of the Disaster Preparedness Division at Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. He was responsible for planning and management for eleven air bases and several smaller installations spread throughout the Pacific. He also managed the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) Defense and mobility programs. During this time, Major Lessley completed Air Force Squadron Officers School, where he received an award for his writing ability.

Major Lessley returned to the continental United States in 1986, and was assigned Assistant Chief of the Disaster Preparedness Resource Center, Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado. His expertise and strong leadership provided major improvements to the Air Force disaster preparedness, air base operability, and NBC defense program. During Operation Desert Storm, Major Lessley spent a considerable amount of time, in a Temporary Duty Status, at the Pentagon working at the Air Force Operations Center and the Air Staff Operations Directorate. Additionally, he represented the United States Air Force as a Joint Service Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) sponsored NBC Operations Inter-service Working Party at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium for four years. He was personally involved in every aspect of the unit’s mission and was particularly instrumental in the planning and reorganization efforts and conversion to the Operating Location M, Air Force Civil Engineering Support Agency. Major Lessley’s decorations include four Meritorious Service Medals and five Air Force Commendation Medals.

He is survived by his wife, Connie Lessley, of Moberly, two sons, Garland M. Lessley Jr and Anthony J. (Lori) Lessley, brother, Mark Lessley, sister, Karen Schultz, four grandchildren, Rachel A. Lessley, Lane D. Lessley, Landyn A. Lessley and Lexie A. Lessley.

Garland was an avid outdoorsman. Spending time with his family and friends hunting and fishing has been a priority for him. Since his military retirement, he has operated a very successful taxidermist business, where he attained a Master Taxidermist status from the Missouri Taxidermists Association and National Taxidermists Association. He has been a member of the United Taxidermists Association for 15 years and a board member for most of that time. He was selected by his peers to be in the 1st class of the Hall of Legends. He served two terms on his local County Ambulance District Board of Directors and five terms on the Board of the Missouri Taxidermists Association. He is a member of the St. Pius Catholic Church and a member of the M. Graham Clark Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution.

A funeral mass will be held at 10:00 AM on Friday, June 23, 2023, at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Moberly, MO with inurnment to follow at Missouri Veteran’s Cemetery in Jacksonville, MO. Visitation will be held from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM on Thursday, June 22, 2023, at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Moberly, MO, with a rosary beginning immediately following the visitation.

Local arrangements are under the direction of PATHWAY-MILLARD Funeral Directors, 411 Union Avenue, Moberly, Missouri 65270 (660) 263-7284. Condolences may be left online for the family at www.pathwaymemorial.com.

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