Col. Daniel Eugene "Stump" Sowada, USAF (retired)

Col. Daniel Eugene "Stump" Sowada, USAF (retired)

A native Texan, Stump was born at 0700 hours on 4 May 1945 at Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, the first of 11 children (four boys and seven girls) of Eugene Daniel and Mildred Irene Sammons Sowada. He attended St. John Nepomucene Catholic Elementary School in Robstown, Texas, and graduated high school from Corpus Christi Academy as valedictorian of his all-male class of 40. A month later he entered the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA), where he received his nickname as an intramural wrestler and was a starting midfielder on the academy’s first intercollegiate lacrosse team. He graduated and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the regular Air Force on 7 June 1967.

Stump completed pilot training at Randolph AFB, Texas, received his wings on 11 October 1968, and accumulated over 4,000 hours of flying time, primarily in C-130s, at Sewart AFB, Tennessee, Little Rock AFB, Arkansas, Nha Trang AB, Vietnam, Kadena AB, Okinawa, Scott AFB, Illinois, Yokota AB, Japan, and Pope AFB, North Carolina. He was a Military Airlift Command (MAC) flight examiner at Scott, and commanded the 345th Tactical Airlift Squadron at Yokota and the 317th Tactical Airlift Wing at Pope. His staff tours included Headquarters MAC, three on the Air Staff at the Pentagon, and his final assignment at National Defense University, Fort McNair, D.C. He received an MBA from Webster University in December 1976 and graduated from Air War College in residence in May 1985.

After retiring from active duty in December 1993, Stump served as city administrator of West Lake Hills, Texas, a suburb of Austin, from February 1994 through May 2006. In June 2012 he moved to Air Force Village II, now Blue Skies of Texas West, a retirement community near San Antonio and Lackland AFB. He moved to The Mission at Blue Skies of Texas East on 9 June 2022, where he passed away on 27 January 2023.

Stump married Sandra Louise Barnes on 10 June 1967. Their marriage ended in divorce on 10 November 1994. They have three sons: Eugene Daniel III, Christopher Paul, and Brian Charles. All three live in Austin with their families. Gene and wife Tracy have two of Stump’s six grandblessings, Halley Irene and Samuel Rinon. Christopher has one son, William Mason. Brian and Diella have three children, Olivia Grace, Daniel Noe and Brian Patrick. Stump was also married to Mina Akins Brees from 24 June 2008 to 7 August 2009, when Mina died. On 12 March 2019 Stump married Nancy Lyn Baker Jones, Ed.D.

Stump enjoyed spoiling his grandblessings, dancing, singing, listening to music, reading, cycling, walking, traveling and spectator sports. He exercised regularly, but didn’t particularly enjoy it; played golf, but didn’t consider himself a golfer. He was a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus, a life member of The American Legion, VFW, Military Officers Association of America, Air Force Association, USAFA Association of Graduates, Airlift/Tanker Association and the Order of Daedalians.

Stump was a hero. He flew secret missions at night into North Vietnam, dropping Army rangers, CIA operatives and others into enemy territory. He went on to be wing commander at Pope Air Force Base and was the C-130 Air Component Commander on the Just Cause mission into Rio Hato, Panama, taking Manuel Noriega into custody. Although the 15 C-130 airplanes were shot at, he did not lose an airplane or a man on that mission. Nancy and Stump met in 2014 on e-harmony. They were married on 12 March 2019. Stump would say he loved Nancy and he was in love with Nancy. Nancy loved and loves Stump with all her heart. He was a very good man and an excellent husband to Nancy. Nancy and Stump enjoyed traveling and singing together and just being together as friends. Stump was a devout and devoted Catholic all his life. He sung in Catholic choirs most of his life, including the Air Force Academy Cadet Choir and the Liederkranz men’s choir of San Antonio. He sang with the Village Voices, the community choir Nancy directs. He was a fantastic tenor. He was a devoted Dadu (Polish for Granddad). He was funny and kind and handsome. Nancy was so happy to know this hero, and incredibly blessed to be married to him. He will be missed greatly, but his suffering is over. We thank the Lord for his miraculous life of service to others and praise the Lord that Stump is in heaven.

We thank the employees of Blue Skies of Texas, especially those at The Mission who took such good care of Stump and Nancy during his final days and months.

Donations may be made to the Air Force Villages Charitable Foundation (Blue Skies Retirement Community), Air Force Academy Falcon Athletic Fund, Blue Skies West Catholic Community or Order of Daedalians Foundation.