Leon N. (Tiger) Rutkowski of North Syracuse formerly of Buffalo, Gowanda, Cuba and Ripley NY; received final clearance from the control tower and departed runway # 1 for a non stop flight into the wild blue yonder on December 1, 2021.
He was born in Buffalo on June 6th 1931. He went on permanent vacation from the New York Air National Guard (NYANG) 174th Tactical Fighter Wing “ The Boys from Syracuse” at Hancock Field in April 1987 as a Personnel Superintendent in the grade of Master Sgt (E-7). He originally enlisted with the HG detachment 207th Air Service Group (NYANG) of Niagara Falls Airport on February 7th 1949 and was discharged as a private on September 16th 1949 at the convenience of the government. He enlisted in the United States Air Force on December 30th 1950. A veteran of the Korean War, serving in Georgia, Louisiana, French Morocco, Texas, Colorado and England with the 2nd Bomb Wing. After discharge in February 1956 he enlisted in the Air Force Reserves 455th Fighter-Bomber Wing Force in Niagara Falls and transferred to Syracuse. He enlisted in the NY Air National Guard at Hancock Field in July 1961 and was recalled to extended active military duty with the 174th Tactical Fighter Wing in October 1961 and then in August 1962 he served in Phalsbourg, France, and again in May 1968 serving at Cannon AFB, Clovis, New Mexico until December 1968. While on full time active duty in 1968, the law was changed that all air technicians became full time USAF reservists and federal employees and retained that status forever. His awards include The Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, U.S Air Force Longevity Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Medal, USAF Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon, USAF Reserve Medal with over 36 years of service.
He was employed full time as a personnel superintendent with the NY Air National Guard from 1962 until his vacation in 1987. He graduated from Cuba Central School in 1949 and Bryant and Stratton Business Institute in Buffalo with a two year degree in accounting. He was a former member of the American Legion Posts in North East, PA and North Syracuse, NY. Leon was a former member of the CNY chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and the Oswego County Airport Association, 174 Fighter Wing Alumni Assoc., 174 Fighter Wing Chapter 50 of the Non-Commissioned Officers Academy Graduates Association. He was employed with American Grandby Co. in Liverpool and employed with the Jackson Hewitt Tax Service in Mattydale and Accurate Accounting and Tax Corp. in Cicero. He attended St Rose of Lima in North Syracuse. He also earned a Private Pilots License and has completed 309 hours of flying time to his credit. Leon is a member of the NY Military Vehicles Preservation Assoc. and enjoyed driving his former military vehicles during the summer months.
He is survived by 2 grandchildren Carson and Corrine and 2 nephews of Tucson, Arizona.
In lieu of flowers and memorial contributions can be made to the food pantry at St. Rose of Lima Church 409 S. Main St North Syracuse.
A Funeral Mass will be held Monday Dec 6th at 10am in St. Margaret's Church. Burial will be private.
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