A wellness check in Glendale, Arizona, turned into a road trip for two strangers who ended their journey as “lifelong friends.”
Howard Benson’s son was concerned when his father stubbornly refused to cancel his plans to move cross country alone, so he called the Glendale Police Department for a welfare check.
“He’s loaded up a trailer and thinks he can drive himself to Florida,” he told the dispatcher on Aug. 25, according to KTAR-FM. “I’d like to have somebody talk to him if they could.”
The 94-year-old World War II veteran was planning to move to a senior living facility in Florida and was preparing for the cross-country trek when Glendale Police Sgt. Jeff Turney arrived at his house.
Sgt. Turney, a retired Air Force member, was specifically sent because of his innate ability to relate to other military members and veterans.
Once he arrived to Benson’s home, however, he realized he couldn’t convince him to cancel his trip.
“I responded over there and started talking to Howard and figured out he was going no matter what anybody had said,” Sgt. Turney told KTAR.
Benson was set to leave the following day regardless, so the police officer decided to accompany him to ensure Benson got to Florida safely.
Even though the two men barely knew each other, they set off for Florida the following day. By the end of their 30-hour endeavor, however, the pair would become best friends.
Before the trip, Sgt. Turney called it “an honor” to help Benson move and even said he was excited to learn more about the WWII vet.
Sgt. Turney reported updates on the trip via Facebook Live where people who wanted to follow the unlikely duo’s adventure could watch the budding friendship between two veterans grow.
Benson told his unexpected companion he wanted to see America one last time, according to KTAR.
“It was unbelievable,” Turney said. “I told him I wanted to hear about his life.”
“He basically started at 3 1/2 years old with his earliest memory sitting on his mother’s lap and he told me about his entire life for 94 years.”
After hours of driving, the two men had learned a lot about each other’s lives, shared many laughs and each gained a new friend.
Benson even gained a new nickname, Hurricane Howard, which came from a conversation about the oncoming Hurricane Dorian.
“We shared a lot going across the country,” Turney said. “We are lifelong friends now.”
When the pair arrived at the senior living facility, Benson was welcomed with waving American flags and patriotic songs.
“Over 2300 miles of conversation with someone I didn’t know 5 days ago,” Sgt. Turney wrote on Facebook after the road trip.
“We laughed, we joked, we learned, and yes, there were tears when we parted. I was fortunate to be able to get to know and honor a man who has lived a full life.”
Sgt. Turney hopes that his adventure with Howard will encourage others to help those who need it.
“Live every day to it’s fullest, give people complements when you’re able, enrich your life by volunteering, and finally, take the time to help someone,” he wrote, “just because it’s the right thing to do.”
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