Hohenfels Community lines up to give the gift of life
April 26, 2012
By Mark Iacampo
HOHENFELS, Germany -- The Hohenfels Military Community rallied behind the Health Clinic's recent blood drive to set the record for the largest blood drive the Armed Services Blood Bank Center-Europe has seen in Germany in five years.
"I am proud of the overwhelming support that our community gave to our Blood and Bone Marrow drives ," said U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth McKoy. "I knew this was going to be a successful event but I did not realize to what magnitude until I saw over 100 Soldiers, civilians and family members standing in line waiting about 20 minutes before the event started."
Sgt. David Wheeler, HHC laboratory technician , said he'd been trying to get a blood drive organized since May of last year, but the Landsthul Blood Bank Center was reluctant to travel to Hohenfels.
"The last blood drive conducted at Hohenfels back in 2010 collected 38 units of blood total from the entire installation," Wheeler said. "Now to take a team from Landsthul and send them here TDY cost more money than it would cost to buy those 38 units outright from the American Red Cross."
Wheeler had to convince the Blood Bank that he could deliver their quota of units, so he began advertising and instituted a preregistration sign-up, but it wasn't until a chance meeting at the lab with 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment's Command Sgt. Maj. Thilo E. Hendricks that things really got rolling.
"(Wheeler) told me (Landsthul ) was kind of hesitant, so I said, you tell them to get up here, whatever they're quota is, they'll have it," said Hendricks. "I'll have the whole battalion up there."
With support of Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Mitchell O. Watkins, Hendricks made the blood drive the main effort of the day, and by 10 a.m., April 4, the entire 1-4th Inf. Regt. had lined up outside the Community Activity Center. Halfway through the first day of the two-day drive, almost 100 units had been collected. Volunteer response was so overwhelming, that some donors were asked to return at a later time to spare them a 1.5-hour wait.
"When you got senior leadership like that making time for Sol diers to come down here, people are really enthusiastic about it and really encouraged to donate and save lives," said Wheeler.
"There's no word that can really express how it makes me feel that these Soldiers are taking this mission and making it the main effort," said Hendricks. "They're really excited about giving back to the community and giving back to their brothers and sisters in arms."
"I'm giving blood to save a life that could someday save mine," said Spc. David Webb III, 1-4th Inf. Regt.
The two- day blood drive amassed 220 units of blood, as well as 140 bone marrow samples.
"Of additional significance is the fact that Europe's monthly goal is 300 units of blood and our numbers, even on the first day, exceeded half of Europe's monthly objective," said Lt. Col. John J. Strange Jr., USAG Hohenfels commander.
McKoy said this was a great community filled with people who have always supported Army programs and the JMRC mission.
"Often we are dubbed as "the great little place," but given the success of this event I would say that we are small but mighty," he added.
Hendricks said he plans on 1-4th Inf. Regt. supporting the blood drive on an annual basis.
"Soldiering is not just about combat," he said. "It's about the basic Army value ... the support of the community which makes us the whole Soldier concept. This blood is going to save somebody's life."