Office Opens on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base

Story by Tara Humphries, Chair of the Board of Directors, Wayne County American Red Cross / Thursday, August 9, 2013

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. – American Red Cross and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base representatives came together Friday, Aug. 9, to kick off a new chapter in an old tradition.

SAF Opening at SJAFB

Cutting the ribbon to open the new American Red Cross office on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base are (l-r) Col. Lamar Pettus, 4th Figher Wing vice commander; Col. Greg Gilmour, 916th Air Refueling Wing commander; Bill Brent, Red Cross regional chief executive officer; Josh Cain, regional director of SAF; Margaret Taflinger, lead SAF volunteer; and Tammy Forrester, community executive officer for Wayne/Greene and Lenoir County Red Cross Chapters.

Officials from the Red Cross, 916th Air Refueling Wing, and 4th Fighter Wing cut a ribbon and opened an American Red Cross field office on the base, continuing the commitment Clara Barton first made to members of the U.S. military more than 130 years ago.

After providing supplies and support to soldiers in the field during the Civil War, Barton was inspired to do more to alleviate human suffering and that led to her founding the American Red Cross. The mission was further reinforced by a charter granted by the U.S. Congress and that charge continues to drive more than 500,000 Red Cross volunteers like the ones who will staff the Seymour Johnson office.

Margaret Taflinger and her husband, Lt. Col. Norm Taflinger (USAF ret.), and Bill Hewitt, a U.S. Navy veteran, will staff the office 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

They will provide Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) core services to the men and women of Seymour Johnson and surrounding area. These services include education, information, referrals, family resiliency programming, and emergency services.

One of the leaders in the effort to open the office, Col. Greg Gilmour, the 916th’s wing commander, knows first hand about SAF.

“The Red Cross really provides services to our members. I saw it when I was with the Navy, and now with the Air Force,” Gilmour said. It was the Red Cross that contacted him with news that his grandmother had passed away. Later, when he was stationed in Turkey, SAF helped a colleague get home when his family needed him.

“That’s why I didn’t know why there wouldn’t be a permanent office on the base,” Gilmour said. “Having a presence here on base makes sense.”

“It is great to have y’all here,” he said, noting that the new office, which is located in the 916th’s headquarters building, is ‘down the hall from my office’.”

Office Opens at SJAFB

Margaret Taflinger, lead SAF volunteer, and Wendy Dyer, Service to the Armed Forces state manager for NC, VA and D.C., welcome a visitor to the new SAF office on SJAFB (l-r).

Joshua Cain, director of Service to the Armed Forces for the Eastern North Carolina Region, also pointed out that the office is “right around the corner.” Armed Forces members do not have to go off base to receive services.

“It is a great partnership with the 916th, that they are hosting our office so we can serve the entire base through our Service to the Armed Forces mission,” Cain said. “We’re here to meet the needs of the military and their families.”

“I personally feel that there is no greater calling or worthy cause than taking some time out to support the military and their families,” said Cain.

If military personnel or their families have a need during hours that the base office is not manned, they can go to the Red Cross office at 600 N. George St. in Goldsboro or call the local chapter number: (919) 735-7201. There is also a 24-hour hotline at 1-888-4-HELP-BAY (1-888-443-5722).

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