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Jack Swonson '62

Jack Swonson ’62 has had great experience in making plans and following through. Planning for an Air Force career, he entered the Academy in 1958. He eventually returned to his alma mater to teach in the Department of Astronautics. Later, as director of requirements at HQ Military Airlift Command, he was directly involved in planning the source selection for what became the C-17.

Fast forward to 2001 when the retired colonel was one of a handful of USAA executives tasked with opening a new service center in Phoenix, Arizona. Moving from the USAA “mother ship” in San Antonio, he hired local staff and opened the doors with 30 employees. By the time he retired five years later, the team had grown to 2,700. 

Planning has also been central to his personal life. Whether he is providing educational funding and enriching travel opportunities for his grandchildren or developing budgets as president of his homeowners association of over 2,000 members, Jack takes measures to help ensure success. 

“I’m proud that all our grandchildren have done well so far in their lives,” he says. He and his wife, Polly Ann, regularly visit their families in Alaska and Texas, traveling from their retirement home in Scottsdale. Jack is a passionate golfer who has made six holes-in-one, including the first one ever made at the Academy. 

When Jack made some recent changes to his estate plans, which included naming the USAFA Endowment as a beneficiary, he took it a step further, developing a thick, loose-leaf binder he calls his Mack Truck Book. 

“I realized that I had to plan for what Polly Ann would need to smoothly handle all the complexities of modern life if I were hit by a Mack truck,” Jack says. “Or what our son Jack (as executor) would need if we were to die together. We keep it in our safe, and Polly Ann reminds me to review it at least twice each year to ensure it’s up-to-date.” The book includes information on funeral arrangements, wills, trusts, powers-of-attorney, insurance policies, investments and bank accounts, key contacts, websites with IDs and passwords (for Social Security, DFAS, VA, etc.) and copies of legal documents (marriage license, DD214, etc). 

Jack and Polly Ann are recognized in the USAFA Endowment Polaris Society because of their future legacy commitment to the Academy. “I’m pleased to give back to the institution that gave me the ability to succeed. I urge all graduates to include the Academy in their estate plans. And do your family a favor: provide them with your version of a detailed Mack Truck Book,” he says.