Narciso “Napo” Garcia slipped the surly bonds of Earth, put out his hand, and touched the Face of God on Tuesday, August 30, 2022. Napo passed away very peacefully at home, surrounded by his loving family and friends. He was 98 years old. Napo is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Frances Garcia, son and daughter-in-law Michael and Laura Garcia, grandchildren Jason (Whitney) Garcia, Steven Garcia, and Alexander (Kassandra) Ramirez, great grandchildren Jordyn Garcia and Jayden Ramirez, daughter and son-in-law Loretta and Frank Lopez, grandchildren Daniel (Sophia) Lopez, David (Ceona) Lopez and great granddaughter Sophia Lopez.
Mr. Garcia’s family have been pillars in the El Paso community for more than 100 years, his mother and father, Juan and Rosa Garcia, having immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 1913. He and his six brothers and sisters, Juan, Alfredo, Raquel, Rosa, Bertha and Carlota were the first to be born in the US and he was the last surviving sibling from that “greatest generation.”
Napo grew up in central El Paso and graduated from El Paso High School (EPHS) in 1943. 74 years later he would be recognized as an Honored Ex from EPHS in October of 2017. Immediately after graduation he entered the US Army Air Corps. He trained for a year to become a tail-gunner and armorer in the crew of a B-25 Mitchell bomber as part of the 8th Air Force, 57th Bomb Wing, 346th Bomb Squadron. He would fly scores of missions over Germany and Italy, bombing bridges, railways, naval ports, ball-bearing factories, oil refineries, airfields and heavy gun emplacements. The average life-span of a bomber crewman at this time was about 10 missions. He was on his 41st mission over Germany when the war ended in 1945. He received 8 commendations including the Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters.
Having survived WWII and thanks to the GI Bill, he became the first member of his family to graduate from college. He received his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Texas Western College (now UTEP) in 1951.
He worked for the City of El Paso Engineering Department and was instrumental in building modern additions to the El Paso Airport during the late 50s and early 60s, including the control tower that is still in use today. He also played a pivotal role in designing and building extra-long and heavy load-bearing runways at Biggs Army Air Field, when it was a top-secret Strategic Air Command Base in the 60s.
Napo moved on to White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) as a member of the United States Civilian Service. He did pioneering work on some of the first analog and hybrid analog-digital computers used at WSMR and perfected systems and procedures used in environmental test chambers and shock and vibration test facilities. These systems were used to test and refine the great missile and rocket systems of the cold war and early manned space program including Nike Hercules, Nike Zeus, Hawk, Pershing, and Redstone. He capped off his amazing career as a “rocket-scientist” as ground logistics lead for the landing of the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-3) at White Sands Space Harbor in March of 1982 - the first and only time the Space Shuttle would land outside of Nasa Facilities on the east or west coasts.
He retired from WSMR in September of 1983, with more than 30 years of combined military and civilian service to the Nation. He spent his 40 years of retirement meticulously maintaining the family home, hand-carving and painting his beloved rocking horse Christmas ornaments, serving St. Raphael’s Elementary school where his grandchildren attended, and helping everyone he knew with just about anything that came along. The world is a better, safer, and gentler place because of him, and he will be greatly missed and forever loved.
Visitation will be at Sunset Funeral Home, 750 N Carolina Dr., from 4-8 pm on Wednesday, September 7, 2022, with Catholic Rosary at 6 pm. Funeral Mass will be held at St. Raphael Catholic Church, 2301 Zanzibar Rd., at 12 noon on Thursday, September 8, with interment at Ft. Bliss National Cemetery immediately after. All services will be live-streamed on Sunset Funeral Home’s Facebook page. For more information please call 915-594-4424. Please visit online registry at www.sunsetfuneralhomes.net.