September 20th, 2019 is National POW/MIA Recognition Day and one South Carolina Volunteer has a special connection.
As Red Cross Volunteers, Al and Rena Agnew are heroes. Everyday they commit to helping meet the needs of those that are suffering from an emergency or disaster in their community.
For Al Agnew, he is also a board member in the Eastern Chapter of South Carolina.
However, Al’s Red Cross story begins long before he was ever a volunteer for the organization. His story begins as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam. Agnew was shot down during a reconnaissance mission over Hanoi, Vietnam on December 28, 1972. Though he safely ejected, he was captured and held until March 29th of the following year. Agnew was imprisoned for 91 days before being the last POW to board a plane and return to the United States.
From the day Al Agnew joined the United States Navy in 1961 until the present, Al has never faltered from his commitment to his country, his family and his community.
During his imprisonment, he received a Red Cross package containing toiletries, personal items and some hard candy and a couple of books became his connection. While Al had known that his aunt was with the Red Cross during World War II, he had no first-hand experience with the Red Cross until the day he received that Red Cross package.
“It was great. They were well thought out,” said Agnew. “When you had been living on water and cabbage soup, it was a treat.”
After being released as a POW, continued to serve in the Navy until 1986.
After retiring, Al and his wife, Rena, continued to raise their family in his hometown of Mullins, SC. They became Red Cross volunteers because they wanted to give back to their community. Al Agnew took military calls and worked with emergency communications through the Services to Armed Forces.
From teaching CPR classes and driving emergency response vehicles, their Red Cross story continues today.
“The Red Cross is the first line of responders when disasters happen,” said Agnew. “There is a sense of satisfaction in helping other people.”