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Volunteer's Life is Intertwined with the Red Cross

Howard Hinson, a longtime resident of San Bruno, Calif., can’t imagine his life without the Red Cross.

Hinson’s father, Richard Hinson, was a real American hero who volunteered for World War II service right out of high school in St. George, Utah.

“Dad was a Japanese prisoner of war for three-and-a-half years during World War II,“ recounted Howard Hinson. “He always said he probably wouldn’t have survived the prison camps if not for the Red Cross care packages that got through. Of course, I wouldn’t have been born after the war if Dad didn’t come back. That’s why I try to pay it back and pay it forward for the Red Cross.

“My dad was a career active-duty submariner, so I grew up at half-a-dozen sub bases, always aware of America’s debt to the military and dad’s feeling about the Red Cross,“ Howard Hinson added

Undoubtedly, his father would agree with Hinson’s philosophy of “paying it back and paying it forward.”

Howard Hinson, 57, is currently on his third American Red Cross deployment to a war zone. He has worked at three Red Cross stations in Iraq: Tikrit, Balad and now Baghdad, where he serves as assistant station manager.

During these five-month commitments with Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces, he delivers emergency communications to troops and their families, visits hospitals and provides recreation center benefits for both military personnel and civilians at five “downrange” sites.

Hinson’s devotion to his dad’s memory and the Red Cross has hardly been limited to overseas deployments. He began volunteering for disaster relief work in 1989 after California’s Loma Prieta earthquake. In 2002, he became a full-time volunteer, and a few years later took a two-year position as Emergency Services Director for the Shasta Area (Calif.) Chapter of the Red Cross.

Even after he began going overseas for the Red Cross, he still found time to continue his disaster relief work while he was at home in California. Most recently, Hinson served as the Red Cross logistics chief after the tragic gas line explosion in San Bruno.