Thursday, May 23, 2013

World War II POW Thankful for Red Cross Care Kits

People give to the American Red Cross for many reasons.  Tom Cooney and his wife Mary give annually to the American Red Cross because of something the Red Cross gave Tom in a time of need.

Private First Class Tom Cooney was a young army photographer in 1945 when the B-24 he was flying in was shot down over Hungary during World War II.  He was taken captive by the Germans and held for nearly a year.  Tom attributes his ability to survive to the care kits he received from the Red Cross.  Inside the care kit were canned goods, cigarettes and vitamins.  Tom wasn’t a smoker, so he traded his cigarettes for other people’s vitamins.  Aside from the health benefits he was receiving from the canned goods and vitamins, Tom still believes today that just feeling like someone knew he was alive was what kept him going.  Tom remembers how helpful and important the Red Cross package was and knew that he wanted to contribute to and support the organization if and when he was released as a prisoner.

During World War II the nations in Western Europe allowed the Red Cross to carry out its work of supporting those who had been taken prisoner.  The Red Cross provided extensive services to the US military, Allies, and civilian war victims including 27 million packages for American and Allied prisoners of war.  The American Red Cross has provided humanitarian support to the United States military, veterans and their families under a trusted symbol for more than 130 years. Through the Service to the Armed Forces program, the Red Cross provides emergency communications, supports military and veteran health care facilities, and provides social services to the more than 2 million military members to include National Guard and Reservists, 23 million veterans and their families.

The American Red Cross is able to provide these services through employees and volunteers who are stationed alongside the military, across the country and around the world. This includes a network of Red Cross Chapters and Stations that have offices on domestic installations as well as supporting service members on bases around the world.

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