Honoring an American Hero

by Lisa Morgan, staff contributor, America Red Cross North Texas Region

Over the past few weeks, Red Cross Disaster Services and Service to the Armed Forces teams have collaborated to help make SSgt Homer Hogues’, the last surviving Tuskegee Airman, home safer.  

Several months ago, SSgt Hogues had a stroke that required him to spend extensive time in the VA Hospital and VA Rehabilitation facility.  

The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African-American military pilots who fought in World War II. They formed the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces. Wikipedia

He shared his desire to come back home, but it would require an extensive renovation project to make his bathroom more accommodating for him. Hogues’ very passionate daughter, Barbara, knew that she needed to make this happen for her father. Barbara reached out to her contacts at the Tarrant County United Way and started the ball rolling. Several veteran charitable organizations and veteran-owned businesses stepped up to make the renovations happen in his home and van to give him back his mobility. 

During the renovations, the site manager noticed Hogues’ home did not have working smoke alarms and reached out to the American Red Cross. As part of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, the American Red Cross will install free smoke alarms and provide fire safety education to those in need.  

Two Red Cross disaster services team leaders, Chris Bankhead and Mike Nelson, both veterans themselves, were excited to honor the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen by helping make his home safer. The initial install made sure that the home was equipped with working smoke alarms in the right areas and a subsequent install provided special bed-shaker alarms to help alert the Hogues in the event of a fire occurring while they are asleep. The whole family also received a customized fire escape plan for their home.  

We are thankful the Red Cross was able to help, and grateful for his sacrifice and duty to this country all those years ago that paved the path for future military men and women of color. 

For information about the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign visit www.redcross.org/homefire and learn about Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces at www.redcross.org/military.

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