HONOLULU -- January was National Blood Donor Month, a time when the Armed Services Blood Program donor centers take the time to recognize the dedicated people who support the military blood program worldwide.

This year, the Blood Donor Center at Tripler Army Medical Center, held its annual recognition ceremony, Jan. 25, at the Enlisted Club on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, here. The ceremony is just one of the ways the center shows its appreciation to the more than 140 military commands, blood drive coordinators and donors who are the heart of the Armed Services Blood Program.

The ceremony started with an invocation by Capt. Stacie Kervin, TAMC chaplain, and an outstanding a cappella singing of the National Anthem by the master of ceremonies, Spc. Christopher McKeithen.

Col. Karen Burmeister, chief, Department of Pathology, TAMC, gave an opening speech about ASBP's mission and her firsthand experiences.

Later, guest speaker United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Patrick Tyrrell, delivered an emotional speech about his daughter Haley who was diagnosed with medulloblastoma--a brain and spinal cord cancer. He spoke about Haley's surgeries, treatments and how grateful he and his family are for everyone who donates.

"Haley couldn't have had surgery without the donors, Tyrrell said. "It is not until you see that anonymous gift of a person's blood going into the body of your own child do you understand the power of that gift."

Without a dry eye in the room, Tyrrell looked into the crowd to say thank you, and became tearful himself.

After lunch, the recognition portion of the ceremony began. Tripler's Blood Donor Center gave out 29 specially-made purple heart wooden plaques to individuals and units whose dedication to the Armed Services Blood Program allowed the donor center to collect nearly 6,000 units of blood in 2012.

"Hearing the guest speakers, Col. Burmeister and Gunnery Sgt. Tyrrell, talk about what they needed the blood for (was powerful), said Diane Chong, who knows all too well about blood transfusions. "Those speakers brought tears to my eyes."

Chong's grandfather had leukemia and needed blood transfusions. She admitted at the time she was scared to donate, but made a conscious decision to donate on her 50th birthday.

"It is now that I know I am doing something for mankind," Chong said. "Something I could give and know where it is going to someone in need."

The Blood Donor Center takes time each January, which is National Blood Donor Month, to thank its donors who help ensure an adequate blood supply. Blood has a shelf life of only 42 days and must continually be replenished. The Armed Services Blood Program wants to encourage those who have never donated before to consider giving. A single blood donation could help save more three lives.

Individuals and units recognized at the ceremony include:

Top Whole Blood Donors
-Harry Beasor, Jr.
-Charles Brown
-Diane Chong
-David Partaka,
-James Rayburn, Jr.
-Michelle Williams
-Alex Zotomayor

Top Platelet Donors
-William Andrew II
-Christopher Dunlap
-Frank Lange
-Clyde Wong
-Robert Fowler
-Richard Hill
-Elizabeth Gocong
-Glennys Uiagalelei

Top Blood Drive Coordinators
-Garrison Sgt. Maj. Michael Budomo, Pearl Harbor Shipyard
-Master Sgt. Rodd Maeyoshimoto, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam 15th Aircraft Maintenance Unit
-Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyler Aker, Joint Intelligence Operation Center

Community Support
-University of Hawaii Army ROTC
-University of Hawaii Air Force ROTC
-Schofield Post Exchange
-Hickam Base Exchange
-Navy Exchange

Top Unit
-Pearl Harbor Shipyard
-84th Engineers Battalion at Schofield Barracks
-205th Military Intelligence Battalion at Fort Shafter

Tripler Army Medical Center Blood Battle Winner
-Alpha Company

Phlebotomist of the Year
-Spc. Dong Lee

Red Cross Volunteer
-Bernice Oshita, who had more than 10,000 volunteer hours