Although raking leaves with your dad doesn’t typically fall into the category of life-changing events, First Officer Cecil Medina was in the middle of yard work when his dad first asked where he wanted to go to college. His father’s next question was: “How are you going to pay for it?” The unexpected reality check was the start of a journey that would lead Cecil to the Air Force Academy and eventually to Southwest Airlines.
Cecil grew up in a military family. His father served in the Army, and both parents instilled strong patriotic values in him. A career in the armed forces wasn’t Cecil’s original plan, but it turned out to be the perfect one. Twenty years of flying C-130 transport planes allowed him to experience much of the world and gave him a heart for serving others.
“I hadn’t thought of flying commercially after the military, but I kept hearing about Southwest Airlines’ sense of Family.” Once onboard, he found that to be true when personal tragedy struck. “The way Southwest cared for my family when my wife’s sister passed away reinforced for me that I was in the right place.”
Cecil feels most at home participating in the Southwest Airlines Adopt-A-Pilot Program, which pairs Pilots with elementary schools to teach students about aviation. Cecil has supported classes in Wisconsin and Florida over the course of his eight-year Southwest career. “I’ve had amazing experiences with kids of very different economic backgrounds. If I can inspire even one child to view his or her circumstances differently and to realize there’s so much more out there, I’ve done my job.”
Cecil’s heart for service doesn’t stop there. He counts the travelers on his flights every month and presents Customer No. 737 (in honor of our beloved aircraft) with a personal gift to show his gratitude.
We believe you’re quite a gift yourself, Cecil, and we couldn’t be more thankful to have you as Our Star!
Photo courtesy of Bob Croslin