First Sergeant recalls the power of words

  • Published
  • By Daryl Mayer, AFLCMC Public Affairs
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio (AFLCMC) – “You'll be fine.  I've seen worse.”
Those were the words of a Walter Reed medical technician to Senior Master Sgt. Ben Seekell some 48 hours after a land mine in Afghanistan forced surgery to remove his lower left leg. 
“In retrospect, I'm not sure if that actually even happened, or if I imagined it,” said Seekell, who now serves as the First Sergeant for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.  “It was a simple phrase of I guess you could call it encouragement.  But I latched onto it.  I said this guy thinks I can do it.  I needed that.  I took that and I ran with it.” 

It is a lesson that sticks with him still. 
“That's why I always I always put in a plug for the power of words and the things that we say to people,” he said.  “Even the things that we say in passing, which I’m sure was what he did.  He just said it, you know, probably said it a couple of times that day, but it mattered to me.  The things that we say to people matter because we don't know what they're going through, we don't know what they're feeling or where they're at.  So I always say choose your words carefully, because they have power and they have an impact.”
Seekell said he always wanted to be a cop and began his career in 2004 in the Security Forces.  After 5 years, he was accepted to become a Military Working Dog handler. 
“I was able to work with military canines for about five years, truly, one of the most rewarding things in my career to work with such a special animal, form that bond and be able to protect our men and women, wearing the uniform worldwide.  It was truly a time in my career that I’ll always treasure.”
He later recalled being a staff sergeant and having a circumstance in life where he needed a helping hand. 
“It was probably the first time in my career that I saw someone willing to kind of put everything on the back burner and focus on just what me and my family needed,” Seekell said.  “It was just a very revealing, powerful moment for me and I thought to myself, as I navigated that issue, ‘Wow, they really stepped in and made a difference. I would love to be able to pay that forward. I would love to be able to be that person for somebody that needed somebody.’”
Years later, after meeting the rank requirement, Seekell applied to be a First Sergeant and become “that person” for somebody. 
To hear the full conversation, you can watch Leadership Log on YouTube at  You can also listen by searching “Leadership Log” on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Overcast, Radio Public or Breaker.