The following blog post was written by a family member of Michael Winchester, a beloved Oklahoma City Employee that we lost due to an act violence on November 15. He will forever be in our Hearts. As a former punter for the University of Oklahoma, Mike will be honored by Southwest and his alma mater at Saturday’s game with a fly-over by a Southwest Boeing 737 (weather permitting).
On November 17, we boarded a Southwest Airlines plane in Indianapolis to travel to Oklahoma City to be with our daughter-in-law Becca Winchester George, our son Stephen George, and the Winchester family. In Indianapolis, we were greeted at the boarding desk by the pilot, who offered his condolences and escorted us onto the plane. Every other Southwest Employee along the way also offered words of comfort and support.
In Houston, during our transfer, two Employees took us into the privacy of the jet way, informed us that this was a “hugging station” and proceeded to shower us with affection. The captain greeted us as we entered the plane.
When we arrived in Oklahoma City, there was a Southwest Employee by our side from the time we exited the plane to when we left the airport.
When we arrived at the Winchester home, there were two Southwest Care Team Members at the house. I am sure I do not know all the ways the Care Team provided support, but I know they arranged flights and lodging for out-of-town friends and family, inundated the Winchester home with food, and spared the family from having to deal with as many bureaucratic and financial burdens as possible. One example of the granularity of the support they offered was the purchase of phone chargers for Stephen and Becca, who left their home in Dallas in such haste that they forgot their chargers.
CEO Gary Kelly and his executive team along with dozens of Mike’s Fellow Employees attended the funeral.
We attended the service at Mike’s church on Sunday after the funeral. I will paraphrase David Crawford’s—one of the church Elders—comments about Southwest’s support for the Winchester family. He said, “I never expected such an outpouring of love from Corporate America.”
We would like to thank Southwest Airline Employees for trying to obliterate what was a tragedy beyond belief with healing power of the human heart and the spirit of the Lord God Almighty.