The American Red Cross has honored a lifetime of service by Maj. Gen. Carl H. McNair, Jr, by dedicating the Fort Belvoir Red Cross House in his name during ceremonies, Jan 26. McNair, an Army aviator and former Commanding General of the U.S. Army Aviation Center in Fort Rucker, Alabama, was an ardent Red Cross supporter during his retirement, and a frequent volunteer and visitor to Fort Belvoir Events. He passed away last year, but his legacy lives on with his daughter, Courtney McNair Bulger, Red Cross Executive Director in the National Capital Area.
The Carl H. McNair Jr. Red Cross House, nestled between large cedar trees at 15th and Middleton Roads on Fort Belvoir, was constructed in 1941 for use by the American Red Cross, and according to Col. Joseph Messina, Garrison Commander, is the oldest wooden structure on post. Messina noted that the daily service by Red Cross aids installation readiness and its family programs continue to create a more resilient community.
“For more than 80 years, the Red Cross has been here to prevent and relieve suffering, as they offer home comforts and critical services throughout the community. This headquarters is a place of assistance and relief,” Messina said.
Mike Thome, Red Cross Central Atlantic Division Vice President, speaking to a capacity audience of volunteers, donors and executives, said Red Cross volunteers provide vital assistance at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in several key areas, including surgery, radiology and nursing.
“[Red Cross volunteers] also provide counsel and guidance to service members and their families, providing a means of emergency communication between deployed service members and the families and making available financial assistance in the forms of volunteer grants and distributing comfort items and other supplies,” he said.
Koby Langley, American Red Cross Senior Vice President of Service to the Armed forces and International Services, reminded the attendees that what is now the Red Cross began with heroic volunteers just west of Fort Belvoir 160 years ago.
“Clara Barton began the mission of the American Red Cross, during the Civil War on the Antietam battlefield, tending to the wounded and dying in the bloodiest one-day battle in American warfare history. She gathered up local volunteers from Maryland and the District of Columbia and that's how this organization got started,” he said.
Volunteers have been principal providers ever since. Fort Belvoir has two paid Red Cross members, who coordinate efforts for 200 volunteers in numerous locations across the installation.
McNair had a distinguished career of 32 years with the U.S. Army, serving as the first Branch Chief of Army Aviation as well as having been the Brigade Commander, Deputy Commanding General, and Commanding General for the U.S. Army Aviation Center.
MG McNair was the unofficial voice of Army aviation for many years and was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame in 2004, according to the Red Cross.
Messina said the Red Cross has a constant presence at the hospital, Fisher House as well as numerous garrison events.
“Every time we had an event, our Red Cross partners are there with us,” said Messina. “Thank you. You make the installation a safer, more comforting place to live, work and play. You're sincerely doing important work.”
To volunteer, or learn more about local Red Cross efforts, visit the website for the American Red Cross of the National Capital Region, or call 800-733-2767.