Honoring Our Own on Veterans Day
Story and photos by Roberto Baltodano for the American Red Cross.
South Florida Red Cross volunteers Alain Gutierrez and George Doughty share a unique story of patriotism, commitment and a love for humanitarian work. They were born, grew up and in their teens joined the military on opposite sides of the world, not knowing what life – and the Red Cross had in store for them.
Alain was born to French parents in Abidjan, Ivory Coast (West Africa), and at the start of the Chadian-Libyan conflict, was drafted by the French for his 3-year national service. After basic training, Alain joined and for the next 10 years served with the French Special Forces or 1er Régiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine, 1er R.P.I.Ma before retiring in 1980, when he went on to work as Logistics Specialist for a French government contractor in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. This would bring him closer to George, and the Red Cross.
George was born in Long island, NY. In 1953 he joined the U.S. Air Force and the next year was deployed to Inchon, Korea, where he served with the 25th Air Defense Command as a Fighter Jet Mechanic specialized in Air Structure and Hydraulics. Upon completion of his tour in Korea, George returned to Portland AFB where he served with the 503rd Air Defense Group (or Material Squadron). In 1970 he joined the ARMY reserves as a Transportation Specialist. This would bring him closer to Alain, and the Red Cross.
Alain and George graduated as non-commissioned Officers, and based on merit, were promoted to Lieutenant and Sergeant respectively. During their military careers, both men specialized in Logistics, and on that capacity, in 1990 were deployed to serve as part of the American-led coalition in Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield (Gulf War).
While deployed in Saudi Arabia, Alain served as a french civilian contractor responsible for offloading and evacuating equipment off the port as soon as it arrived. George was with the 1569th Light Medium Transportation Battalion, supporting the 18th Airborne, 82nd Airborne and the 24th Infantry by hauling the heavy military equipment to the front lines.
During the first Gulf War, Alain and George worked in the same theater of operations for almost a year, but it was while volunteering as Logistics Specialists for the Red Cross’ Hurricane Matthew response that they finally met. While helping move supplies to the many shelters that were opened across South Florida, these two soldiers realized they had one important mission in common: A desire to help when needed most.
On veterans day we honor and celebrate all of our men and women in uniform — those who served and continue to serve, our partners, staff and volunteers who have served our nation and fought to protect our freedoms.
At its core, the Red Cross mission is about people — the people we serve, and the people who serve with us. Our partners, staff and volunteers are humble servants, many of them veterans who come to this work with an open heart and a passion for helping others.
They are people like Alain and George, and those listed below. We thank you all for your service, and for choosing the American Red Cross to continue to serve your country and your community.
The above data was collected from Volunteer Connection as of 11-09-16