PAYING IT FORWARD
Meet Floyd & Susan
“The waves are over the bridge and our ship has lost power... I’m calling to tell you good bye.”
Every Tuesday night, Floyd Cheatwood and his daughter Susan Chavez volunteer their time at the YMCA Military Welcome Center at Will Rogers World Airport. Veterans themselves, they share stories, brief new recruits on what to expect at basic training and welcome them to relax before boarding the bus.
“I talk to the troops, and I encourage them to do their best, to be proud of their service, to be proud of one another and to work as a team. To always obey the rules, and most importantly to look, listen and learn,” Floyd notes as his favorite part of volunteering.
Susan is a mother hen at the Military Welcome Center. She welcomes each visitor with a warm smile and an offer of a beverage or a snack. Before briefing the new recruits, Susan takes time to talk with them individually and learn something about each of them.
“I know that when my son was deployed and heading to basic training someone welcomed him, and I felt compelled to do that for other families,” Susan explains.
Remember the call to say good bye? That young man was Susan’s son, Victor. He was stationed on a ship in the Persian Gulf during a volatile time. After the line went dead, not knowing what had happened next, Susan did her best to work through her day, waiting to hear from the Navy. That evening, Susan called her dad, but before she could say much, Floyd said, “I talked to Victor today and they had a little trouble over in the Persian Gulf, but I think everything is okay now.”
After dropping the line with his mother, Victor, knowing his grandfather’s military history, called Floyd for help. Floyd walked Victor and his fellow soldiers through the issue from across the world, saving the ship just one-hour before the captain was calling to abandon the ship. This experience led to a partnership between Floyd and Victor in assisting with other mechanical issues and even writing military technical manuals.
Floyd and Susan are proud of their family’s service and humbled to be able to give back by volunteering at the Military Welcome Center.
“I admire the Y for taking part in bringing these troops here and seeing to it that they have a place they can come to where there is food and drink and a place to visit before they make the trip to Ft. Sill,” Floyd explains. “I think all of us around, that are volunteers, are encouraged that much more. I am thankful and have great joy that I can be one of them to take part in it.”