Military families leave Fayetteville for special trip of new mem - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Military families leave Fayetteville for special trip of new memories

Posted: Updated:
Emma Dozier, 7, holds her "dad pillow" as she waits to go the Snowflake Express trip Fayetteville Regional Airport. Emma Dozier, 7, holds her "dad pillow" as she waits to go the Snowflake Express trip Fayetteville Regional Airport.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -

Thursday afternoon Fayetteville Regional Airport was buzzing with excitement and a large group of travelers who obviously were not the average flyers. Some were wearing Santa hats, other mock reindeer antlers, and there were a lot of kids. The cheerful sendoff they got was a clear sign the group was special.

These were all spouses and children of military members killed on active duty since 9/11. The Snowball Express organization flew them on a trip from to Dallas where they meet other families like them for four days of fun.

"It's constant go, go, go, and it's a celebration, and it's balloons flying everywhere," explained Amy Dozier who has taken her seven-year-old daughter Emma on the trip before. In a way, Emma has taken her dad too. She was holding a "dad pillow" that he sent her from Iraq. The small pillow is slender enough to fit easily in Emma's arms. The front is a printed full-body image of her dad Jon Dozier, and it's shaped to like just like his figure. The pillow arrived in the mail three weeks after he was killed in 2008.

Stories like that are what make the trip so special.

"It's like the club you never wanted to be a part of, but then you walk away from an experience like this and you can't imagine not being a part of it anymore, and I think the kids feel the same way too," Dozier said.

Between the sporting events, trips to the zoo and amusement parks and other activities on the trip, there is time to talk about someone they've lost.

"When you get with a group who understand your loss you find out you don't have to say much," Dozier said. "People automatically know your heart, and they know how to take care of you and be your friend. The things that you're able to take away are so wonderful and they last forever."

Dozier said many children make lasting friendships on the trip too, staying connected to others who understand them like few others do.

Snowball Express began in 2006. This year nearly 1,800 spouses and children of fallen military heroes will take the trip to Dallas.

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • 2 charged with first-degree murder in beating death of UNC professor, cancer researcher

    2 charged with first-degree murder in beating death of UNC professor, cancer researcher

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:00 AM EDT2014-07-25 13:00:14 GMT
    A UNC research professor was robbed and beaten to death Wednesday afternoon on University Drive in Chapel Hill, police said.
    A UNC research professor was robbed and beaten to death Wednesday afternoon on University Drive in Chapel Hill, police said.
  • Woman impales herself on cemetery fence; says she was running from attacker

    Woman impales herself on cemetery fence; says she was running from attacker

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 2:53 PM EDT2014-07-23 18:53:18 GMT
    A woman claims she was running from an attacker and tried to jump a five foot fence when she became impaled. Firefighters had to use power saws and a grinding saw to cut her free, all while she was conscious. After 30 minutes she was transported to an area hospital for surgery to remove the spike sticking out of her thigh. It happened at Vine Cemetery in Hazleton. She said the nearest gate was locked. Witnesses backed...
    A woman claims she was running from an attacker and tried to jump a five foot fence when she became impaled. Firefighters had to use power saws and a grinding saw to cut her free, all while she was conscious. After 30 minutes she was transported to an area hospital for surgery to remove the spike sticking out of her thigh. It happened at Vine Cemetery in Hazleton. She said the nearest gate was locked. Witnesses backed...
  • Man charged with killing UNC professor had just left Wake Jail

    Man charged with killing UNC professor had just left Wake Jail

    Friday, July 25 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-07-25 23:14:57 GMT
    Derick Davis II, 23 (Left) and Troy Arrington, Jr., 27, (Right)Derick Davis II, 23 (Left) and Troy Arrington, Jr., 27, (Right)
    An Orange County dispatcher sounded shocked Wednesday afternoon when a 911 caller described finding University of North Carolina professor Feng Liu beaten and dying on a street near the UNC campus.
    An Orange County dispatcher sounded shocked Wednesday afternoon when a 911 caller described finding University of North Carolina professor Feng Liu beaten and dying on a street near the UNC campus.
Powered by WorldNow

5912 Hwy. 49, Ste. A
Hattiesburg, MS 39401

Telephone: 601.545.2077
Fax: 601.545.3589
Email: newsroom@whlt.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.