Red Cross staff recognized for selfless service

On Sept. 27, a ceremony was held at the Ramstein Officers’ Club to honor American Red Cross staff members currently working in Germany who have, at some point in their Red Cross tenures, deployed in support of members of the military.

This event was part of the “Service to the Armed Forces: Our Legacy Continues” project, which aims to document, honor and recognize the tremendous legacy of Red Cross staff who supported the U.S. military serving on combat, peacekeeping, peace-making and humanitarian missions.

Debby MacSwain and Kay Walton, co-chairs of the Legacy project, presided over the ceremony and formally recognized and thanked the Red Cross staff members for the invaluable services they provide. Brig. Gen. John B. Cooper, director of logistics, installations and mission support at Headquarters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, also attended and spoke about the history of Red Cross’ support of service members and their families.

He thanked the Red Cross staff members for their invaluable contributions and continued support.

“I had several people tell me they were surprised by the number of times Red Cross staff members deployed,” Walton said. “We’re simply a reflection of the operations tempo in the military.”

Walton pointed out how the Red Cross legacy influences today’s Red Cross.

“The staff we recognized yesterday are part of a much bigger picture,” she said, “a continuum of staff who have, since Clara Barton began this legacy in 1861, tirelessly given of themselves and put themselves in harm’s way to provide comfort and care to members of our armed forces. I’m sure Clara Barton never imagined 150 years ago that her legacy would continue to this day. In our opinion, all of our Red Cross staff members are heroes, and that’s why it’s so important that we thank them for what they’ve done.”

MacSwain and Walton both served overseas with the Red Cross in Vietnam and Korea, respectively. Both women were recently honored in Washington, D.C., for their work on the Legacy project and are now traveling through Europe and the Far East, where they will bestow recognition upon Red Cross staff currently serving in those regions.

More than 500 people have registered with the Legacy project so far, and the number is expected to grow as the project expands across communities in the U.S.
For more information about the Legacy project, send an e-mail to

From the Civil War, when Clara Barton first provided aid on the battlefield, to the current war in Afghanistan, there have been 27 different overseas operations and wars to which Red Cross staff have deployed. Today, more than 100 American Red Cross workers serve on U.S. military installations and alongside troops in forward-deployed locations, providing disaster response and emergency communications between service members and their families back home.

The following Red Cross staff were honored at the ceremony:
Michelle Bailey
Vickie Bengston
Roland Born
Donna Burkee
John Paul Butler
Peter Buttner
Cheryl Dean
Debbie Dustman
Rena Forcum
Jana Fullmer
Stephen Hagerich
Mark Hooper
Erin Kahl
Debra Moore
Norm Potter
Marilyn Smith
Ingrid Torres
Melanie Hooper Williams
Samantha Wudel
Austin Young

(Courtesy of American Red Cross)