HOUSTON – Former U.S. Congressman Lloyd Bentsen died Tuesday at the age of 85.
Lloyd Bentsen was born February 11, 1921, in Mission, Texas.
Bentsen received a law degree from the University of Texas School of law in 1942.
With World War II underway, Bentsen enlisted in the U.S. Army.
After brief service as a private in intelligence work in Brazil, Bentsen became a pilot and in early 1944 began flying combat missions in B-24s from southern Italy with the 449th Bomb Group.
At age 23, Bentsen was promoted to the rank of Major and given command of a squadron of 600 men.
In 18 months of combat, Bentsen flew 35 missions against highly defended targets such as the Ploesti oil fields in Romania, which were critical to the German war machine.
Bentsen was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, one of the Army Air Corps' and now the Air Force's highest commendations for valor.
Bentsen also was awarded the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the medal and each subsequent cluster representing specific campaigns for which he was decorated.
Bentsen served the people of his home area from 1947-1955, first as Hidalgo County judge and then as congressman. Following three successive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, he declined to seek reelection in 1954 and decided to begin a career in business.
For 16 years, Bentsen was a businessman in Houston. By 1970, he had become president of Lincoln Consolidated, a financial holding institution. Following his successful campaign for the Senate that year, he resigned all management positions and directorships.
Bentsen had been a United States senator from Texas since 1971 and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee since 1987.
Bentsen served as Chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Joint Economic Committee and was a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
In 1988, Bentsen was the Democratic Party nominee for Vice President of the United States.
Lloyd M. Bentsen Served as 69th Secretary of the Treasury from Jan. 20, 1993 to Dec. 22, 1994 under President Bill Clinton
Bentsen and his wife, B.A., the former Beryl Ann Longino of Lufkin, Texas, have three children.
Source: U.S. Treasury