How long have you worked for the Red Cross?

Two years in Vilseck, three months in Würzburg and four years in Scranton, Pa.

What’s been your most exciting moment with the Red Cross?

The most memorable was working a plane crash in May 2000 in Pennsylvania — a charter plane flying to Atlantic City — where 19 people died. We worked with the families to do a memorial with them and help them through their grieving.

Your name sounds Russian. Are you from Russia?

It’s Croatian. My husband, John, who works for the Department of Defense’s Center of Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, has Croatian ancestry. His great-grandmother and great-grandfather are Croatian.

Have you been to Croatia?

We went this past Labor Day. We went to Pula. It was nice to get a sense of the people. They were similar to Italians.

What does your job involve?

It’s keeping servicemembers and their families connected through emergency messages, and health and welfare messages. We do CPR and first-aid courses every month and a baby sitter’s class for students aged 11 to 15.

Was Florence Nightingale the most famous Red Crosser?

No, she was a nurse who was not in the Red Cross.

The most famous American Red Cross member is Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross. She worked with federal troops during the Civil War and then went to Europe where she found out about the Red Cross and founded an American branch.

Does the Red Cross award medals for gallant service?

No, but we give pins for years of service. I have a five year pin. You start with a Red Cross volunteer pin. Then you get numbers that attach to it denoting years of service up to four. According to the internal Red Cross Web site, you can order an 80-year pin.

Are you helping the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment soldiers arriving at Vilseck?

We are doing briefings for incoming troops and a spouse’s course where we teach them to get involved in their communities as Red Cross volunteers.

We have 50 volunteers at Grafenwöhr, Vilseck and Hohenfels but we expect that to increase with the arrival of the Strykers.

Interview by Seth Robson.

Tracey Svalina

Age: 35-year-old Fairfax, Va., native

Title: Assistant manager Red Cross, Vilseck

Europe readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to

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