The Department of Defense honored the American Red Cross for its service to the military during the Vietnam War with a flag commemorating the 50th anniversary of the war. In a ceremony on Friday at Red Cross national headquarters in Washington, D.C., retired Army Lt. Gen. Claude M. Kicklighter presented the flag to the Red Cross as a part of the annual ceremony for the American Red Cross Overseas Association (ARCOA).
ARCOA is an independent national organization of Red Cross staffers who worked overseas. The ceremony honors all ARCOA members for their service and specifically recognizes those who died in the last year.
“You’ve been there since the Spanish-American War. You’ve been on every battlefield,” Kicklighter said of the Red Cross.
As a part of the annual roll call of members who died in the last year, the names of six Red Cross workers killed in Vietnam were called out for special recognition.
Deborah MacSwain, president of ARCOA, worked in a Red Cross Club Mobile in Vietnam visiting field units and supporting recreation centers. She served with Hannah Crews, one of the Red Cross workers who died in Vietnam. The ceremony provided her with an opportunity for “closure,” she said, and a chance to celebrate people who dedicated themselves to the Red Cross mission.
Red Cross workers who served in World War II, the Gulf War, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Djibouti were all present at the ceremony. The great-great niece of a woman who served in World War I came to represent her aunt.
Members of ARCOA will continue the legacy of Red Cross support for the military over weekend. On Monday in honor of Veterans Day, they will lay wreaths at the Women’s Vietnam Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Women’s Vietnam Memorial marks its 20th Anniversary this year.
The Red Cross provides about 400,000 services each year to military members, their families and veterans. They include emergency communications, helping families cope with deployments and support for the wounded.
Learn more about the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces on redcross.org.