Lloyd Millard Bentsen, Jr. (February 11, 1921 – May 23, 2006) was a four-term United States senator (1971 until 1993) from Texas and the Democratic Party nominee for Vice President in 1988 on the Michael Dukakis ticket. He also served in the House of Representatives from 1949 to 1955. In his later political life, he was Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and the U.S. Treasury Secretary during the early years of the Clinton administration.
Bentsen was born in Mission in Hidalgo County in south Texas; his parents were Lloyd Millard Bentsen, Sr., a first-generation Danish American, and the former Edna Ruth Colbath. Bentsen was an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America. He graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1942 where he was a member of the Texas Cowboys. Upon graduation, he served in the United States Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945. After brief service as a private in intelligence work in Brazil, he became a pilot and in early 1944 began flying World War II combat missions in B-24s from southern Italy with the 449th Bomb Group. At the age of 23, he was promoted to the rank of major and given command of a squadron of 600 men, overseeing the operations of 15 bombers, their crews, and maintenance units.
In fifteen months of combat, Bentsen flew thirty-five missions against many heavily defended targets including the Ploesti oil fields in Romania, which were critical to the Nazi war production. The 15th Air Force, to which the 449th Bomb Group was assigned, is credited with destroying all of the petroleum production within its range, which equated to about half of Germany's sources of fuel on the continent. Major Bentsen's unit also flew against communications centers, aircraft factories and industrial targets in Germany, Italy, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. Bentsen participated in bombing raids in support of the Anzio campaign and flew bombers against hard targets in preparation for the landing in southern France.