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From "our' sub to home in Jefferson City

From "our' sub to home in Jefferson City

August 5th, 2013 in News

Officer Andy Lenart poses for portrait at the Jefferson City Police station. After visiting Jefferson City in the mid-1990's, after his discharge from the U.S. Navy, he moved to this area to start his civilian life.

He grew up in Ohio, near Lake Erie and the Pennsylvania border, served on a submarine in the U.S. Navy and now works at the Jefferson City Police Department.

It's been quite a journey for Andy Lenart, but one he is glad to have traveled.

"For some reason I was drawn to the Navy for long time, even before I graduated high school," he said. "I joined when I was 17 in the delayed entry program and had to have my mom and dad sign to let me in. When you join you go through entrance exams and I had a list of jobs that I qualified for and supply work on subs was one of them and that sounded good to me."

The ship Lenart served on was the USS Jefferson City.

"We operated on no kind of schedule," he said. "We could be out for a week or could be out two to three weeks. We stationed in San Diego on six-month deployments. The longest I was ever underwater was 55 days, and when you get into a routine, you don't realize how long you're under the water."

Lenart was on the sub when it launched Tomahawk cruise missiles Into Iraq in 1996 during a four-month period when the sub was in the Persian Gulf.

"I wasn't scared," he said. "It was exciting. I had been on the sub for two years and just practicing. It was a testament to our training that when it came to doing something it went smooth."

Every year some crew members of the Jefferson City come to the Capital City and in 1995 Lenart was among the group that came.

"We toured at places such as Unilever, the Capitol, Governor's Mansion and we went to the Lake of Ozarks," he said. "We had such a great reception. I can remember we never paid for a cup of coffee while I was here. It made you feel great."

When his Navy career ended in 2001, Lenart and his then fiancé, Urska, headed toward his home town in northern Ohio and on their way through Missouri on I-44 he decided he wanted to show her Jefferson City, where he had had such a great experience a few years earlier.

"We loved San Diego, but it was expensive to live there and we wanted to own our own house," Lenart said. "We both thought Missouri was a pretty state. It's hilly, green and really pretty."

They decided to move here, got an apartment through the Internet, packed all their belongings into a U-Haul trailer and came here with no jobs.

"What drew me to Jefferson City was that I was from a small town and this place has a small town flavor has the things a big town has to offer," Lenart said. "We didn't know anybody and didn't tell anyone we were moving."

The move took place in December 2001 and a year later Lenart was hired by the Police Department, where he now works in the traffic investigations section.

"It's funny where life takes you," he said. "You have to believe in fate."