No one expected Denise Caspers to attend her uncle Tony’s funeral this past June, but she made it and added a personal, emotional touch to a time-honored tradition.
Denise serves as a Captain in the United States Air Force and is currently stationed in Eindhoven, Netherlands. She happened to be working in Washington D.C. when her family informed her that her beloved uncle, Tony Sowada, had died and was soon to be memorialized in Minnesota. With some last-minute organizing, Capt. Caspers was able to travel to Minnesota to be with her family.
As a former air policeman in the USAF, Tony Sowada was entitled to military honors at his burial at Fort Snelling National cemetery. Mueller Memorial funeral director, Mandy Stafford, suggested that the family use active-duty service members from the Minnesota Air Force Honor Squad. Tony’s wife, Angie, thought that was a great idea.
On the day of the burial the two USAF servicewomen were present and at attention as expected but to Angie’s surprise, her niece, Capt. Denise Caspers was standing in full uniform alongside the USAF honor guard. Denise diligently performed her duty for the ceremony and was responsible for delivering the folded American flag to her aunt, Angie.
“Denise was holding back tears and you could hear a little quiver in her voice when she presented the flag,” said Jane Walz, Tony and Angie’s daughter who was sitting near her mother during the ceremony. Capt. Caspers rejoined her fellow servicewomen and reverently completed her uncle’s honors.
Honor guards always have an emotional impact, but having an active duty member representing the family’s legacy of service made Tony Sowada‘s memorial something special.