Warren Curtis Schensted
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February 27, 1929 - November 12, 2012
A career Air Force pilot, Warren Schensted last served in Vietnam where he earned the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service. There, he was exposed to Agent Orange, a herbicide used by the military to kill foliage. His exposure to these deadly chemicals later caused both chronic lymphocytic leukemia and soft tissue sarcomas. The latter cancer claimed his life on November 12, 2012-Veterans Day.
Earlier in his 20-year Air Force career, Warren served two tours in Hawaii where he helped pioneer the aerial recovery of satellite nose cones. In 1958, as an aircraft commander in the newly formed 6593rd Test Squadron (Special), he was charged with catching a parachute ejected from a satellite circling the earth. He accomplished this feat by flying a C-119, and later a C-130, into position to snag the parachutes carrying the satellite nose cones.
In so doing, Warren garnered world-wide publicity for the first recovery with a C-130. By the mid-1960s, the CIA had classified the project and further successes went unheralded until the Cold War ended. Then the CIA declassified the project and revealed that film from the nose cones furnished vital intelligence about Soviet and Chinese installations.
Following his aerial recovery experiences, he was assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. There, as a flight test pilot, he flew Zero Gravity missions in support of the nation's space programs. Additional assignments had him flying down-range missions to the Caribbean, South America and Africa, to monitor mission launches from Cape Kennedy, Florida.
Retiring from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel, Warren entered a Seattle-based branch of the freight forwarding industry. There, he was responsible for arranging military household moves, both domestically and overseas.
He is preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Elizabeth Maloney Schensted, son Gregory, who died at age 10 of cystic fibrosis, and grandson Patrick, who succumbed at six months to yet another genetic disease. He is survived by his sons, David and Robert, and by his brother, Marshall of Glenwood, Minn., and sister Jeanne of Eden Prairie, Minn. Other survivors include five nieces and nephews, daughter-in-law, Maria Elena Alcazar-Schensted, and grandchildren Sarah and Elena Schensted and Sebastian, Carlos and Maria Jose Ugalde-Alcazar, and great-grandchildren Valentina and Sophia.
Donations may be made to the National Cystic Fibrosis Association or to a
. A memorial service will be held at 11:00am on November 23rd at Patriot's Landing, Dupont, WA. Interment will be at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington.
Please leave online condolences at www.gaffneycares.com. Arrangements by Gaffney Funeral Home, 253-572-6003
Published in The Seattle Times on November 21, 2012