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The Ultimate Father’s Day Gift: A Lifetime of Gratitude

Dads are superheroes. Cape-less warriors that can fix any scraped knee, protect you from bullies, and be there to catch you before you fall.

This Father’s Day, Red Crossers share stories of their dad’s influence, sacrifice and service.

Red Cross Provides Emergency Communications in Vietnam: Reflection for Father’s Day

By Brittany Jennings, Regional Communications Officer, Eastern North Carolina

service to the armed forces vietnam red cross fathers dayAt 18 years old, my dad, Walter Elzie Penland, enlisted in the Marine Corps. It was the Vietnam War era. He hadn’t received a draft letter, but he’d seen his three brothers deploy and he simply felt it was his job to serve his country.

It was from an island in the East China Sea that my dad wrote my Nana, asking for my mom’s hand in marriage. On that island, more than 21 hours away from home, he also ran 11 miles a day carrying more than 30 pounds of gear; endured several typhoons and heat waves exceeding 120 degrees; and experienced an emergency landing when his plane caught fire over the Pacific.

It’s where he also received a phone call from the Red Cross saying his brother was in a car accident and he needed to come home.

Every single day, brave men and women enlist in the military to make sure we are safe at home. And today, we celebrate the dads out there.

Happy Father’s Day to my daddy, and to all fathers in the armed forces. You are our heroes.

fathers day red cross service to the armed forces
Brittany hanging out with her dad at Christmas as a kid.

Serving the Armed Forces, Thanks to a Father’s Inspiration

Michael Chaison, SAF Division Manager, Southwest and Rocky Mountain Division

service to the armed forces red cross fathers dayLike my father and his father, I wanted to be a military aviator. After college, I went to sign up and was told that I could have anything but flight as I was horrible at spatial apperception. Apparently, when I think the plane is banking down and to the left, it is going to the right.

I still wanted to assist with the military and found a position with the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces. When I was leaving for my first assignment at Ft. Benning, Georgia, my father gave me an old Red Cross pin. He told me that a Red Cross staff member had given it to him in Vietnam.

CHaisonNow, 20 years later, I have had assignments in Georgia, California, Texas, Kosovo, Arizona, Kuwait, South Korea and Turkey. I have had the opportunity to assist members of our military, veterans and their families with emergency communications, access to financial assistance, good local referrals, resiliency education, volunteer opportunities, health and safety education, disaster assistance, international tracing, and sometimes, most importantly, just lending an impartial ear to their situation.

This Father’s Day and through the years, I hope that I can instill in my daughters those same principles as they grow.  I know that my father instilled them in me.

service the armed forces red cross father's day
Michael’s daughters, sitting with his father.

Emergency Communication Brings Dad-to-Be Home

And one of our favorite dad stories from the past year:


For more information about Red Cross services offered to military members, their families and veterans, on redcross.org.