'Black Knights' spouse hosts blood drive in father's memory
November 6, 2012
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Ken Thayer was more than a crime scene investigator and photographer, he was a hero to many by doing the simplest of things, donating blood.
For seven years, Thayer, along with his family and the Orange Police Department, would host a blood drive in Orange, Texas, said Thayer's daughter, Lori Thayer Briggs.
"His plan was to have a blood drive once a year on his birthday and collect pints of blood equal to his age each year," Briggs explained. "Every year Thayer would reach his goal with all the blood being collected by Life Share Blood Center in Orange, Texas."
Briggs, military editor with the Killeen Daily Herald, Killeen, Texas, said she could remember her father donating blood every opportunity he had. That was until 2009, the last blood drive he would donate at after illness set in.
Thayer died in 2010, but his annual blood drive continues to this day on his birthday, Oct. 31, at the Orange Police Dept.
For the last few years Briggs has been saddened, having not been able to attend the drive due to scheduling conflicts.
"With our schedules, work and deployments, Lori has not been able to attend another drive," stated 1st Lt. Matthew Briggs, Lori Briggs' husband and a platoon leader with 1st Battalion "Black Knights," 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "She was especially upset last year about missing the blood drive so I encouraged her to start one of her own."
Lori Briggs hosted her first blood drive in November 2011, at the Robertson Blood Center, here, but with little success due to multiple Fort Hood Soldiers deployed, including Matthew Briggs.
Determined to make his wife happier with this years blood drive success, Matthew Briggs, along with the Black Knights, hosted the "Out for Blood" Ken Thayer Memorial Blood Drive Oct. 31.
"What makes her happy … make me happy. It is a good cause and important for us to do our part to keep people alive," Matthew Briggs explained.
The blood drive was more than supporting Ken Thayer's memory but what his memory stood for, saving lives.
"Blood collected (at Robertson) is deemed priority for combat zones and is sent to areas such as Afghanistan within seven day of final processing," Catherine Tharpe, Robertson's donor recruiter.
Soldiers need the blood, as one typical combat trauma case can use up to 40 pints of blood, Tharpe stated. "We need all the support we can."
Pfc. Ben Barron, a mortarman with the Black Knights, added he understands the importance as he has been donating blood regularly for more than two years.
"(Donating) is pretty inspiring," Barron said, who hails from Riverside, Calif. "Americans doing something great for their countrymen in the simplest way possible."
Barron encourages everyone to donate despite his or her fears or busy schedule.
"(Donation) will take less than an hour, it's not to painful and if it is your first time, technicians will talk you through the process," Barron added. "I know if something happened to me in combat I would want this kind of support."
Lori Briggs stated she too would feel the same if her husband was injured in combat. She is thankful for all the donors and support of the Robertson staff.
"Thank you so much for coming out to donate," Lori Briggs said of all who participated in the blood drive. "It means a lot to me, my family, families here and the Soldiers overseas."
"Thank you for doing something so simple but with a great impact," Matthew Briggs said in response to all donors that day. "To the Soldiers from the (Black Knights) battalion, donating goes beyond a Soldier's character … it's being a good human being."
At the end of the day, 54 pints of blood were collected from the drive, Lori Briggs added. She will continue to schedule a blood drive every year on her father's birthday.