A Family Affair

Margaret Taflinger and her husband, Lt. Col. Norman Taflinger, USAF (Retired), today received Presidential Volunteer Service Awards from Col. Jeannie Leavitt, Commander, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Margaret Taflinger and her husband, Lt. Col. Norman Taflinger, USAF (Retired), today received Presidential Volunteer Service Awards from Col. Jeannie Leavitt, Commander, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE (April 9, 2014) – This week, in honor of National Volunteer Week, the American Red Cross Eastern Region presented Margaret Taflinger and her husband, Lt. Col. Norman Taflinger, U.S. Air Force (Retired), each with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national honor offered in recognition of volunteer service.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is issued by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation on behalf of the President of the United States to recognize the best in American spirit, and to encourage all Americans to improve their communities through volunteer service.

Margaret Taflinger, a Wayne County resident, was one of eight volunteers presented with volunteer recognition awards today by Col. Jeannie M. Leavitt, Commanding Officer, 4th Fighter Wing aboard Seymour Johnson AFB.  Ms. Taflinger received the Lifetime Achievement Award (PVSA), having logged well in excess of 4,000 hours of volunteer service with the Red Cross during the past 17 years.

As a former operating room registered nurse, Margaret worked with the Red Cross on numerous occasions throughout her nursing career to care for her patients and their families.  If a patient’s home was rendered uninhabitable by fire, Red Cross volunteers were there to ensure the patient’s family had a safe place to sleep at night.  If a close relative of a deployed service member took a turn for the worse, the Red Cross was there to notify him/her and request that he/she be allowed to immediately return to the patient’s bedside.  In dozens of interactions, the Red Cross was always there to provide assistance to those who needed it most.  So when she was given the opportunity to begin her own Red Cross volunteer story, she did as she always had done – she gave 100 percent, all the time.

Margaret’s Red Cross story began when she was only nine years old.  While her four older brothers were serving their country in the armed forces deployed around the world, her mother tragically died.  Her local chapter of the American Red Cross stepped in to assist her family and made arrangements for all of her brothers to return home.  It would be her earliest recollection of having all of her brothers home at the same time.

Margaret’s own volunteer work began in 1997 when her husband, Norman, was assigned to the 3rd Air Force at RAF Mildenhall, a British Royal Air Force base in Suffolk, England.  Margaret began volunteering with the Red Cross doing individual case work aboard a nearby military base, RAF Lakenheath.  In short order, she would rise to become a hospital chairwoman and later a hub director where she would oversee more than 700 Red Cross volunteers throughout Europe.

Her Red Cross story would continue at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base when she became a paid staff member at the base’s Red Cross office in 2001.  She coordinated blood drives, provided briefings to deploying service members and their families on various Red Cross services available to them and welcomed units home upon their return.  In 2007, she retired from Red Cross work, only to return a year later to carry on her duties as a volunteer when the Red Cross office on base formally closed its doors.  Last year, Seymour Johnson AFB again opened a Red Cross center on base with Margaret at the helm.

Norman Taflinger came to the Red Cross somewhat by accident.  Having worked for the federal government in a number of different capacities since 1972 (10 years on active duty, 17 years in the USAF Reserves, and in the federal civil service since 1980), Taflinger knew how exactly the government machine worked.  When his wife began working for the American Red Cross at Seymour Johnson AFB in 2001, she had a lot of ambitious goals to achieve.  Whenever she met resistance or obstacles to accomplishing an objective, Norman advised her how to navigate the bureaucracy to get it done.  A civil engineer, Norman began volunteering with the Red Cross to perform damage assessments following hurricanes or significant storms in Eastern North Carolina.  One thing led to another and Norman jumped in with both feet to provide for airmen and their families beset by disasters or tragedy.

“Norman expects to see tasks completed,” said Margaret Taflinger of her husband.  “When he began volunteering with the Red Cross, his attention to detail and high standards learned in the U.S. Air Force carried over very well as he ensured that every family they assisted received the care and follow up they were entitled to.  Nothing would fall through the cracks on his watch.”

For his 10 years of service, Norman was presented with the President’s Volunteer Service Award (Silver Level) to recognize nearly 500 volunteer hours.

“Margaret and Norman are a wonderful team, working on behalf of service members and their families,” said Wendy Flynn, Regional Director of Volunteers, Eastern North Carolina Region. “For all of their years of service, for which there could never be enough appropriate words of thanks, the Red Cross extends its heartfelt appreciation to Margaret and Norman as living examples of what these service awards are all about.”

When asked why he serves as a Red Cross volunteer, Norman said, “Serving with the Red Cross has always been a great source of pride for me.  Having had the opportunity to work with so many great people over the years and to see the enthusiastic support that we receive as we do our very best to care for the servicemen and women makes it all worthwhile.  I’m grateful that I get to continue to serve others.”

To learn more about how you can become a Red Cross volunteer, please visit http://www.redcross.org.


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