by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
6/19/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Senior
Master Sgt. Michael Henderlong was recognized as the winner of the
American Red Cross Exceptional Volunteer Service Award, which he
received June 4 in St. Louis. Henderlong has been involved with the Red
Cross since 1999, and his efforts to contribute have earned him the peer
"I am very honored, humbled and surprised about the award," said
Henderlong. "I follow the old mantra of 'paying it forward,' in that you
give to the community, and the community is going to give back to you
in your time of need."
Henderlong works as the United States Air Force Command Emergency
Management Superintendent, and as Scott Air Force Base's Red Cross
Station Chairman, which is the top volunteer for the base.
A Springfield, Missouri native, Henderlong wanted to get involved with
the Red Cross when a friend volunteered with Hurricane Andrew disaster
response efforts in 1992. He said it was a trigger that launched him in a
new direction he is dedicated to.
The eye-opening experience of assisting those in need eventually led him
to his new career field of emergency management, and he is currently
working on his master's degree in the same field.
Courtney Hinton, Scott AFB Red Cross Station Manager, said "The reason I
nominated him was multi-fold. He was enthusiastic to volunteer when we
needed someone, and he had the experience from his 15 years of Red Cross
service that helped us tremendously with new projects. He has requested
to be involved as much as he can be, which is rare to find. He is also
instrumental on the Services to Armed Forces Committee, which covers a
72-county region in Missouri and Illinois to help military families.
Having done all these things, I felt it was necessary for him to be
recognized for all of his efforts. There was stiff competition, and he
was successful in beating out all those other individuals."
Henderlong knows that the help he offers to others has been there for
him in the past. The Red Cross does emergency notifications for families
that are overseas in order to assist military members during an
unplanned issue that arises.
"In 2001, I had a family member who was passing, and I got an emergency
notification to go home and take care of things," said Henderlong. "For a
military member to get emergency leave to take care of an unexpected
event, the military requires a Red Cross notification. This assistance
is part of the Service to Armed Forces piece of the organization."
The Red Cross offers a lot of resources, including blood donation,
disaster relief and helping families in need. The Red Cross also helps
families find financial assistance when it's needed. The Disaster Action
team, which responds to events the team overhears on the police and
fire department radio frequencies, provides immediate on-scene financial
and supplies assistance.
Blood donation is something many people can do to help, said Henderlong,
and a rewarding aspect of taking the time to donate can be when you get
an email notification that your blood donation is being used at a
"Just being able to give back to the community is phenomenal and being
station chairman, I'm able to stay involved in all of those programs,"
He coordinates extensive fundraising efforts and he works as a member of
the disaster action team, St. Louis chapter, where he is on call to
respond to house fires and other unexpected events.
"I see a significant improvement in St. Louis organizations that are
better able to assist because they are more interconnected. This helps
to provide a cross-section of support with the goal of uplifting the
community and helping where it's really needed," said Henderlong, "The
opportunity to reach out to the community is the biggest benefit of
being involved in this organization. There are programs that fill where
the need is, for instance we just kicked off the summer youth program,
and we urge school-age children to get involved in the community that
gives them something productive to do during the summer and it works
toward their college applications."
He plans a future with the Red Cross when he eventually retires, and is
especially interested in getting involved in national and international
"There's something about being on the frontlines of disaster and helping
people get their lives back together that is just very rewarding to me.
That's what I do in the Air Force and that will continue on with that
service with the community via the Red Cross," said Henderlong.