I can hardly believe our canyon blue aircraft will soon be landing in “La Isla del Encanto” (The Enchanted Island), Puerto Rico!! I was born and raised in Ceiba, Puerto Rico; a small town on the east coast where the U.S. Naval Station, Roosevelt Roads, used to be. That was my first exposure to aviation when, as a little boy, I spent hours watching military aircraft takeoff and land. But it was not until my mother took me to the Luis Muñoz Marín International airport that it all came together. I remember looking through the terminal windows, watching the pilots "flipping switches” aboard a Pan Am aircraft, and thinking “Bingo, that’s what I want to be!” Jose Pacheco as a youngster
I attended the University of Puerto Rico, and then joined the USAF shortly after graduation. While serving our country I had the opportunity to fly worldwide reconnaissance and airborne command post missions, as well instructional sorties. Jose Pacheco in the Air Force After military duties and serving as a Simulator Instructor for the Air Force, I’ve had the priceless honor to serve with the family I call Southwest Airlines (SWA).
I am deeply thankful for the opportunities to serve at SWA, i.e. Flight Crew Instructor; various Teams and Projects, as well as the honor to serve our Customers. And now, flying to Puerto Rico!
I am thankful, humbled, and honored at different levels:
First, flying (along with my Captain and friend Pedro Reguero) the first SWA revenue flight outside the Continental United States.
Second, flying the first SWA aircraft into our beloved island of Puerto Rico.
Third, but not least, flying back to the place where all it started, several decades ago; when my mother took me to the same airport we are scheduled to land at!! Jose Pacheco's Mother
I cannot close without thanking, Herb, Colleen, Gary, Chuck, and the thousands of family members that have made this endeavor a reality. It’s impossible to list all of you (please forgive me), but I want thank some folks I’ve personally witnessed putting long hours in this project: The Flight Ops International Team, our Flight Crew Training Center, and Dispatch. To these folks, along with Strategic Planning, Maintenance, and many more; as well as Dumbo, Keith, Kevin, Kirk, Mark Tim, Tim, Tommy, and Steve! (You know who you are). THANK YOU!
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As you know this is National Teacher Appreciation Week. This time brings back a lot of memories as my mother was a teacher for 38 years. After she retired as the High School principal of my hometown in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, she went on to work as the principal of a small church school right up until the day she passed away.
This morning we visited Monaco Elementary School in Aubrey, TX. We were there to recognize two of their outstanding 5th grade teachers, Mrs. Jennifer Hazen and Mrs. Joanie Rouk, for their awesome contributions to the Southwest Airlines “Adopt-A-Pilot” program. I have had the honor to work with these ladies for the past three years. They are extremely proactive and full participants of the program and its activities. These are some of the best students I’ve seen, not only in terms of participation and academic knowledge, but with respect to their exemplary behavior and maturity for their ages. This is no accident, as most certainly Mrs. Hazen and Mrs. Rouk have been direct contributors to these achievements and discipline. First Officer Jose Pacheco (Center) with Mrs. Jennifer Hazen (Left) and Mrs. Joanie Rouk And whenever I show up, the facilities are “ready to go”, clean, and organized on time. During one of my recent visits, I noticed that they had not only displayed this year’s post cards (sent from on-the-job), but the ones I’ve mailed them during previous years. Adopt-A-Pilots use these to share our experiences during our trips as we conduct weekly classes with the students.
Even though surprising these two fine ladies was a short notice request, within a couple of hours we received approval from the school principal, Mrs. Lowman, and the rest was history…
For their contributions, we were delighted to recognize the teachers today with kinds words, and with some presents which included (among other things): SWA lunch boxes containing Southwest-themed office supplies, a round-trip ticket, and some barf bags, to give the kids a little something extra to laugh about.
This day will stay in my mind for years to come. I love recognizing people for their efforts and contributions to other human beings and society in general. Many times (like in the case of Mrs. Hazen and Mrs. Rouk), these are unsung heroes without whose efforts we would not be able to achieve difficult goals in life. I definitively enjoy sharing with the students. The program is designed to use our jobs, as well as those of the entire Southwest Airlines Family, to teach the importance of staying in school and to apply themselves in learning several valuable academic subjects such as science and math. However, the program goes beyond academics and into life principles. We cover subject such as: Leadership, Integrity, Honesty, and Gratitude. We share with them the importance of applying these qualities in day-to-day life in order to overcome obstacles, achieve goals, and overall become healthy contributing members of society. I specifically enjoy sharing how things like: my mother’s counsel and work experiences (i.e. shoeshine boy, delivering newspapers, washing dishes, professor assistant, as well as high school teaching); all contributed to my present honor of serving as a Pilot, with the best Company in the world: The Southwest Airlines Family!!!
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