is with great regret and sorrow that I must inform you of the death of our
Classmate, Don Lionetti, on March 6, 2019 in Tampa, FL.
Don is survived by his wife Bobbi;
their daughter, Laura and her husband, Mike; their sons, Donald and his wife,
Julie, and Christopher and his wife, Betsy; and grandchildren, Kelsey Barton,
Roxanne Lionetti, and Dominico Lionetti.
A funeral Mass will be at Christ the
King Catholic Church, 821
S. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL 33609 at
2 PM on Thursday, March 28, 2019.
Burial will be at Arlington National
Cemetery at date to be determined.
Condolences may be sent to Bobbi at
4517 W. Rosemere Road, Tampa, FL 33609-4209.
In lieu of flowers, the family has
requested that donations in Don’s memory be sent to Wounded Warrior Project, PO
Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675-8517.
Well done, Don. Be thou at peace.
July 29, 2019, Arlington National Cemetery on a slight rise of hallowed ground,
the Washington Monument in the distance, The Old Guard, of the U.S. Third
Infantry Regiment honoring our Classmate, Don Leonetti. As many of our Classmates and wives followed the
lone Soldier bearing Don’s red colored flag of three white stars and who
marched behind the historic horse drawn caisson bearing Don’s stars and
stripes draped casket, the U.S. Army band rendered those same rhythmic
beats so familiar from our parades on the Plain. The gravesite service
concluded with the artillery salute of 15 rounds, then all listened for
the Crack! Crack! Crack! of the Honor Guard’s traditional rifle salute,
and the immediate sounding of Taps somber notes. Prior to the burial
ceremony, the funeral service took place in the Old Post Chapel with
eulogies and remembrances from family and friends who were special
companions during Don’s life and career. Major General Donald Infante,
Brigadier General Roger Yankoupe, and Don, Jr. offered prayers and
thoughtful anecdotes regarding Don as Soldier, friend , husband and
father. Following the burial, Bobbie, Don’s bride of almost 58 years
hosted a breakfast reception that provided time for our Classmates to
recall their times with Don from cadet days and right up until his
passing. The Connollys for one, were especially supportive during Don’s
final days. There was time too to share thoughts with those surviving
Don: daughter Laura and husband Mike Barton, sons Don, Jr and wife Julie,
Chris and wife Betsy and Don’s brother Bill and sister Mary Ann Gleason.
Bobbie & Don had three grandchildren along with numerous nieces and
nephews. Among our ‘mates present were
Lucy Paone, Bobbie & Jim Blesse, Rina & Ed Brown, Linda & Jim Connolly,
Gina & Joe Fishburne, Jan & Pat Hillier, Bob Rosenkranz, Mike Urette, Gene
Well done, Don; be thou at peace.
Class Memorial Pages\K-2 Don Lionetti.pdf
DONALD M. LIONETTI 1961
Cullum No. 23485-1961 | March 6, 2019 | Died in Tampa, FL
Interred in Arlington National Cemetery, VA
The portrayal of cadet life in the popular TV series “The West Point Story” and
the encouragement of his father motivated Donald Michael “Don” Lionetti, a
second-generation Italian American from a large New Jersey family who had vivid
memories of eight uncles returning from World War II, to apply to West Point.
From the moment he entered USMA on July 2, 1957 as the second youngest member of
his class, he demonstrated a keen sense of humor and a willingness to work hard
and help others. Don was an above-average cadet, despite occupying the “ejection
seat” in Spanish more than once. Don was selected to the Class Committee, was on
the Bugle Notes staff, and was a member of several clubs, including the Rocket
Society (perhaps a preview of his future). He joked that he did well in plebe
boxing, as he was a good bleeder. He also participated as a “B” Squad footballer
during yearling year and in intramural sports every season. He served as the
Company K-2 executive officer as a firstie.
While at West Point, he met, dated and fell in love with the person he called
the most important influence in his life, Roberta “Bobbi” Tibbett. They married
days after graduation and welcomed a baby daughter, Laura, 10 months later. Sons
Don Jr. and Christopher followed in 1965 and 1970.
Throughout his 33-plus-year U.S. Army active duty career, Don and Bobbi moved 31
times. Duty assignments included his initial deployments as commander of a
Nike-Hercules battery protecting the Washington, DC area during the tense Cuban
Missile Crisis and as tactical director at the NORAD Command Center in upstate
New York, followed by a tour in Germany, where he held his first captain level
command. Don also served in Vietnam as a Field Artillery battery commander in
After earning his master’s degree in engineering at Arizona State University,
Don taught at USMA as an Assistant Professor of Engineering for three years.
This assignment taught him a valuable lesson that served him well as he ascended
the ranks of command: “What’s more important than anything else is to put
yourself in the shoes of the listener and ask yourself what the listener needs
to hear in order for them to understand the point being made.” He truly enjoyed
returning to West Point with his family and took advantage of the opportunity to
cheer on the Black Knights at home football games. Don also became the OIC for
the West Point Glee Club.
Don returned to Germany in 1975 to serve as the XO of the 3rd Battalion, 61st
ADA and later spent two years as the commander of the 2nd Battalion, 60th ADA at
Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
Back in the United States, Don assumed brigade command of the 9th DIVADA at Fort
Lewis, WA, where he acquired the nickname “Father of the Avenger” after working
with Boeing to develop that weapons platform.
Don later served as Commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery
Center and Fort Bliss, TX. Don said, “My two years at Fort Bliss were the most
fulfilling, rewarding, self-actualizing assignment I have ever been privileged
to have.” As Chief of Branch, he provided strategic vision, operational concepts
and materiel requirements that were later validated in the Gulf War. Under his
leadership, the ADA was thrust into the national and international spotlight as
his units protected civilians and U.S. Armed Forces against Scud missiles with
the Patriot missile system, ushering in a new era in air defense. Eleven
thousand soldiers from Fort Bliss deployed to the Gulf War, and Don and Bobbi
greeted each as they returned home.
Don’s final assignment as a lieutenant general was serving as Commanding
General, U.S. Army Space and Strategic Defense Command.
After retirement from the Army, Don served as VP for Air and Missile Defense
Systems for Lockheed Martin for five years. He was also a national security
consultant for ground-based air and missile defense, space applications for
terrestrial military operations and related research, technology and acquisition
Over the course of Don’s career, he earned a Master of Science degree in
Engineering from Arizona State University and completed Command and General
Staff College with honors as well as the National War College. Don was twice
awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and Legion of Merit Medal. He also
earned the Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service
Medal and National Defense Service Medal. He was also the 1996 recipient of the
American Astronautical Society Trophy for his leadership in the application of
astronautics to the development of space systems for national defense.
Don loved traveling with Bobbi and their friends and especially enjoyed spending
time with his children and grandchildren. He also remained active in the air and
missile defense and the West Point alumni communities until 2018.
He is survived by his wife, Bobbi of Tampa, FL; his daughter, Laura Lionetti
Barton, son-in-law, Mike Barton, and granddaughter Kelsey of Tampa, FL; his son
Don Jr. and daughter-in-law Julie of Bellevue, WA; and his son Christopher,
daughter-in-law Betsy, and grandchildren Roxanne and Dominico (Nico) of Duvall,
“Remember me as a career officer of integrity, devoted to our Army and its
soldiers, lucky enough to be entrusted with wonderfully exciting assignments; as
a loving, respectful and grateful husband of Bobbi throughout a lifetime of
adventure; and finally, as a devoted father and grandpa of three absolutely
fantastic children, their spouses and three terrific and loving
grandchildren—our true legacy.”
Well Done, Don; Be Thou at Peace, good friend!
— Don’s loving family and good friend Jim Connolly