MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marines and sailors of 1st Tank Battalion broke a base record Friday.
More than 160 tankers registered to donate blood to the Community Blood Bank in what was the largest bulk-donation group the blood blank had ever seen on base, said Kathy Schilling, the charge nurse of the blood drive.
After initial screening was done within the battalion to weed out any service members who had been deployed in the last 12 months, a total of 117 pints of blood were donated.
This was the first time 1st Tanks had held a battalion-wide drive, said Lt. Col. Thomas Gordon, the battalion commanding officer.
“This is a worthy cause,” said Gordon, a Boston native. “If we can’t send all our Marines over there at the same time, the least we can do is send our blood.”
Doug Dougwillo, the Marine Corps Community Services fitness and wellness branch chief, said in addition to helping those who need blood, the participation in the drive is a good way to earn points for the Combat Center Challenge and a monetary prize.
Units who donate blood make themselves eligible to receive a first place prize of $125 or a second place prize of $75 for their unit fund, said Dougwillo, a Lynn, Mass., native.
“This is an additional element we’ve added to the Combat Center Challenge this year,” he said.
Sgt. Maj. Conrad Potts, the battalion sergeant major, said he feels optimistic about the help that may be given by the gift of blood donations, as well as earning the CCC trophy for the sixth time.
“We won the trophy in ‘03 ‘04 and ‘05, but then we lost it to 3/4 [3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment] in 2006,” said Potts, a Louisville, Ky., native. “Then we won it again in ‘07 and hope to win it again this year.”
Pfc. Okan M. Cetinbag, a logistics vehicle system operator with Headquarters and Services Company, 1st Tanks, said he is a regular blood donor.
“I put myself in their shoes,” said the Chicago native about reasons for donating. “For some person, I can be the guy to give them blood. Or I might be the guy who needs blood in the future.”
The battalion will continue donations by having a secondary blood drive today at building 1710 and expect an additional 120 pints of blood to be collected, said Dougwillo.
The Community Blood Bank visits the base several times each month, giving plenty of opportunities to those interested in donating, said Kathleen Johnson, a registered nurse with the blood bank.
Units who wish to earn points for this year’s CCC may do so by donating blood Oct. 17 at Victory Field. For more information call 830-5386.