Lenote M. Vigare
Barrancas National Cemetery
Section 54, Site 809
Pensacola, Florida


The Northwest Florida Daily News, May 25, 2011

       Lenote M. "Joe" Vigare (1930-2011)

       Chief Master Sgt. (Ret.) Lenote M. (Joe) Vigare, 80, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., passed away at the Fort Walton Beach Hospital on May 20, 2011. Joe was born Aug. 22, 1930, in Monterey Park, Calif. He was preceded in death by his mother, Anita Wells, and father, James Joseph Vigare.
       Chief Master Sgt. Lenote M. Vigare, "Joe" or "Len" to his friends and family, grew up in San Gabriel, Calif. As a teenager he enjoyed racing around town in his hotrod and working on cars (he continued to work on cars throughout his adult life) until he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1947. In 1957, he attended U.S. Army jump school and U.S. Navy combat divers course, and became an Air Force pararescueman or "PJ." While stationed in Hawaii in 1961, Joe, along with Bill Vargas and Ray McClure, recovered the Discoverer 25. The recovery was the first successful water recovery of a U.S. satellite. This recovery became the standard for future space flight recovery, including the Apollo program. He served tours in Alaska, Korea, Hawaii, Guam, Scott Air Force Base, and two tours in Vietnam. He was the commandant of the Pararescue School while it was here at Eglin and Chief of the Wing before he retired.
       Joe earned numerous awards and decorations, as well as being the MAC Airman of the Year for 1961, nominated twice for Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, and member of the Air Force Primus Club, along with astronauts Grissom and White.
       He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Jeanne; daughter, Carla Sanger (Bill); sons, James Vigare of Santa Rosa, Calif., and George Vigare of Fort Walton Beach; sister, Barbara Parsons of Manitou Springs, Colo.; granddaughter, Celena Sanger of Tampa, Fla.; and his three best friends, Mochie, Lady and Trouble, of the Vigare household.
       Funeral services will be held at Emerald Coast Funeral Home on Thursday, May 26, at 10:45 a.m. until noon, with a gathering at the Soundside Hurlburt for loving memories, PJ "stories" and good food. All are invited. The interment will be held on Friday, May 27, at Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, Fla. The family would like to extend their appreciation to the RAO of Hurlburt Field and the DAV for their graciousness and support for the past several years. We love you.
       Joe Vigare loved to Improvise, Adapt, Overcome!
       We thank our troops for their service to our country.


 
 


Pictures and text below are excerpted from the book
Pararescue: What Men Dare Do, by Eloise Engle,
published by the John Day Company, New York, 1964



Technical Sergeant Vigare with complete SCUBA gear weighing approximtely 140 pounds. Pararescuemen soon learn that they don't "jump" with the heavy tanks strapped onto their backs but rather they step out of the airplane and fall straight down.



It is one thing to risk your life so that others may live. It is quite another thing to lay your life on the line so that a piece of equipment can be recovered for scientific study. Here, S/Sgt William V. Vargas (in raft on left) and T/Sgt Lenote M. Vigare (on chute of raft on right) begin their 14-hour vigil over the nose cone capsule of Discoverer XXIX which is shrouded by the black tarpaulin in the center of the raft. The third member of the group, A/1C Charles W. Hoell, Jr., was in the water but out of view at the time this picture was taken. The trio, their prize capsule package and equipment were picked up the following morning by the destroyer USS Epperson.

       There are many Pararescue "notables" in the recovery business. One of them is Technical Sergeant Lenote M. Vigare, a Californian who made headlines during his Pacific tours. It was he who rescued an injured man from the bottom of a 400-foot precipice in Guam, despite the fact that he had broken his own ankle in dropping from the Rescue helicopter. Vigare, a common-sense Pararescueman, later demonstrated his ingenuity during a search, near Guam, for a missing Flying Tiger Constellation. A Navy minesweeper involved in the search notified authorities that it was two days out of Guam and that its water supply was critical. It was three in the morning when Joint Rescue Control Center checked with Vigare and requested the use of jerry cans from the Pararescueman's gear. Unfortunately, none was available on the island, but at daybreak, following a plan evolved entirely by Vigare, aircraft dropped 50-pound blocks of ice, wrapped in blankets and tied with line, beside the minesweeper. The sailors had water.
       As for Vigare's work in the recovery business, he effected three successful open sea recoveries of Discoverer XXV, XXIX, and XXXVI during 1961. On two occasions, Sergeant Vigare and his teammates jumped from an HC-54 Rescuemaster wearing 175 pounds of equipment and without outside assistance retrieved the Discoverer reentry vehicles and secured them to a twenty-man raft. Each "save" was made hundreds of miles from land, and Vigare was fully aware that he would have to spend the night on the open sea with minimum survival gear until he could be picked up by a Navy destroyer.