Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

Employee Stories: Dear Benjamin Dodge

Explorer C
I wish I could say July 21, 2015 started out like any other work day.  Instead I was filled with anxiety and doubt as to whether I was ready to be back at work. I had taken some time off to be with family after my mother passed away and this was my first flight since. I tried to stay optimistic, taking joy in the fact that my day would end in San Diego, and I would get to spend the night in one of my favorite cities. My Crew and I worked from Chicago to Baltimore before heading to San Diego.  When the Customers boarded in Baltimore, they all seemed to be as enthusiastic about traveling to sunny Southern California as I was. We had plenty to celebrate onboard; first-time flyers, athletes on their way to compete in the Special Olympics, and of course, Benjamin Dodge.  Ben was a participant in the Make-A-Wish program.  He was traveling to San Diego with his family to train with the Navy SEALS.  Pretty impressive for a kid about to turn nine. After attending to all our Customers on board, I had a chance to talk to Ben's parents, J. C. and Tonja.  I thought for sure someone close to Ben must be in the Navy.  To my surprise, this amazing little boy (who could pick just about anything, mind you) had decided to train with the SEALS entirely on his own. It brightened my day to encounter Ben on that flight. A couple weeks later, he brightened my day again when I received this in the mail: penpal Since Ben's trip to San Diego, I have been sending him post cards from some of the cities I visit on work. He can’t wait to fly again! To Benjamin, JC, Tonja, Christopher, and Jax: It was a privilege to meet you. It was just what I needed to keep my feet moving forward and it meant the world to me. You face each new day with bravery and a thirst for life, and I hope our paths cross again someday.  Until then, know that I think of you often and always with a smile.  I can't help but think that my mom was testing out her newly acquired wings and blessed us with this chance encounter. Continue to live life to the fullest and take care.