Chief Warrant Officer Jon Dienlin, age 86, passed away at the Veterans Community Living Center on October 13, 2023. Toward the end of his days, he asked only two questions, which might be deemed by some the most important questions of all; how his kids were doing and what was for lunch. He was preceded in death by his parents, Jack and Thelma Dienlin, his wife Beverly, and his sisters Marilyn and Judy. He is survived by his 4 children, Johanna, Sarah, Luke and Rebecca, along with his many grandkids.
~Jon’s military service included 3 tours in Vietnam as a Dust-off Pilot. He often said that the greatest thing to do is save a life, and he saved many. For his valor in service he was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, and the Airman Medal, as well as many other ribbons and accolades. He is survived by his two greatest friends from his Army days, Charlie Pennington and Bob “Squirrel” Baird. ~
Jon enlisted into the Army before legal age, with his father’s consent, because his dad felt Jon was headed for trouble. If only he’d known how right he was! Jon was excited to get out and show the world how great he was, so he applied for helicopter training as soon as possible. Somewhere around this time, he met the first love of his life, Terri. Jon wooed her enough to earn Terri’s patience and loyalty as he proudly served several tours in Vietnam as a Dust-Off Pilot, earning many medals including the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross. Jon went on to qualify in several other aircraft, earning the title of Pilot many times over, and said he had bombed Ho Chi Minh’s trail with Dr. Pepper bottles! Once the glory of the service had dimmed and he had completed multiple tours in Vietnam, Jon returned stateside. First to Fort Rucker to complete his service time and then to Auburn, Alabama to join Terri while she completed veterinary school. Jon’s love of flying came only second to his love of learning and while at Auburn he became friends with an equine vet. This gave way to Jon learning and going into corrective shoeing and eventually becoming an adjunct teacher at Auburn University. His third love was telling people how much he knew about everything, so this was a great fit for him.
When Terri graduated, the couple moved to New Mexico, where they built a family and a veterinary practice. Jon busied himself outside, working with blacksmithing equipment and wrought iron and subsequently building an entire corral system for the property. He did a fantastic job, the corrals serving as pens for animals -a labyrinth of a jungle gym, kingdoms that the other kids weren’t allowed in, cells when your siblings threw you in jail, and once even a handcuff bar that the local sheriff had to come and undo.
Once Jon felt stagnant, it was time to fly again, and so began years of TDY’s down to South America working for the DEA. This did wonders for his soul but not so much his marriage, so Jon and Terri parted ways. When Jon could no longer fly, he settled in Albuquerque and met and married the second love of his life, Beverly. They were both pilots, loved learning and traveling and, luckily for Jon, Beverly was a kind and patient soul who devoted herself to him until she passed in 2018. Both Jon and Beverly were members of the Mormon Church and devoted a lot of time to their local church, Jon serving in the Priesthood for a time. The congregation members were amazing human beings during their times of need.
Jon’s military service was his proudest accomplishment, but he had many other talents. He did some architecture for friends, and spent time on a house he would have loved to have built if his mind quieted down enough for him to sit still. He had an insatiable love of learning; theological history was at the top, followed closely by military history. He had an incredible mind, a large laugh, a keen wit, and an ability to laugh at the absurd. I hope St. Peter is ready at the gate, because Jon is going to want to know it all.
A viewing will be held on November 2, 2023 from 4-5pm in Albuquerque, NM at Riverside Funeral Home 225 San Mateo Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87108. The service will be held on November 3, 2023 at 1pm at Santa Fe National Cemetery.