Air Force Major loved family, airplanes, service

By Tonya Fennell: Cannon Connections

Michael Wassil played piano, sang and flew airplanes.

Wassil spent 25 years in the Air Force before retiring as a Major.

Although Wassil was never stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, his wife Barbara, said the New Mexico base was “close to her husband’s heart.”
According to Wassil’s family, he piloted B47s and taught nuclear bomb safety during his quarter of a century Air Force career. “He loved his time in the Air Force,” Barbara Wassil said, “and he loved telling tales of his time in Saudia Arabia.”

Another yarn Michael Wassil enjoyed spinning was how he was teased about his size when first joined the Air Force at the age of 18 in 1941. “He (Michael) said he was so skinny that they didn’t think they could find a uniform to fit,” Barbara Wassil said.
And from that story a nickname, given to Michael Wassil by his stepson Jonathan, was born. “My son Jonathan called Michael ‘Major Bean Pole’,” Barbara Wassil said.

But, Barbara Wassil said her husband was more commonly called “Pops.”
Jonathan Westbrook described his stepfather as an amazing man whose grasp of machines and math was vast.
Barbara Wassil said her husband learned to appreciate gourmet food, art and opera music, but his first love was airplanes.
“He loved flying,” she said, “and he loved airplanes … everything about them.”

According to his family, Michael Wassil’s proudest achievement was his grandson, United States Air Force Capt. Zachary Souerman, who followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and became a pilot.