Francisco Delgado, our own USS Blog Boy, returned home to Albuquerque for a well-deserved two-week leave before his ship, the USS Nimitz, sets sail for the Persian Gulf for an extended stay. (For the rest of the post, I am going to use Albuquerque's airport code ABQ, because I never trust myself to spell the city correctly.) To greet and meet Francisco, a group (Shelley Logan, Hollee Ford, Paula Berg, and me) from the Blog Team here in Dallas flew to ABQ to meet his flight. Francisco didn't have a clue about what was going on until he stepped off the airplane in ABQ, and we even got his parents, Yolanda and Jesus, in on the surprise.
ABQ's local Culture Committee decorated the gate area with balloons and banners that read "Francisco Delgado Appreciation Day." Colleen had selected a model of New Mexico One for us to present to Francisco, and we had members of the Blog Team, including Colleen, and our ABQ Station Employees autograph a Southwest Airlines soccer ball for him as well. On top of that, the great folks at Outback Steakhouse donated a dinner for four to Francisco and his family. (Francisco, don't make your mom cook every night you are home!) Of course, we also had to contribute a bag of our official snack, candy corn. As USS Blog Boy stepped out of the jetbridge, he was greeted with cheers of appreciation from a sizeable group of our ABQ Employees and the Customers waiting in the gate area, followed by hugs from his mom, dad, and sister, April. He even became a local television star when ABQ's ABC affiliate interviewed Francisco on his way to baggage claim.
Of course, the joy of his homecoming was tinged with the sadness that he will soon be gone for eight months, but you can track Francisco and the Nimitz through the ship's web site which is linked on the right of this page under "Link LUV." Incidentally, the Nimitz is Nuts About Southwest's "official ship." Francisco has promised to contribute to the blog during his deployment, and we look forward to heaaring from him.
There was one other surprise that night, and it was on us. When we boarded the flight home for Dallas, one of our Flight Attendants was another blogger, Carole Adams. During the flight, my fellow bloggers commented on the fact that Southwest (and this blog) really is a part of our Customers' lives, and we are truly honored by that. Our low fares and our great Employees make it possible for servicemen like Francisco to visit their families, and while we can't salute each of them individually, they are all in our thoughts. Besides our visit with USS Blog Boy reminding us of the dedication of the men and women who are in uniform, it also brought home the fact that, like the Delgado's, there are families at home waiting for their return. Nuts About Southwest wishes Godspeed to Francisco and the Nimitz.