MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- To show support for the troops fighting overseas in the ongoing war against terrorism, more than 200 male and female recruits rolled up their sleeves and donated blood in a blood drive held at the WFTBn. chapel April 13.
Army reservists and contracted civilians worked with Marines to coordinate the blood drive to rebuild the current blood supply for shipment overseas to troops in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"It's a tragedy that we're at war, but it's a blessing that even though we're from different services and units, when things get rough, we can pull together as one unit to save lives," said Army Capt. Jeffrey L. Richards, task force commander, 7217th Blood Collection Team, Kendrick Memorial Donor Center, Fort Gordon, Ga.
After the blood is donated, it is sent to the Armed Services Whole Blood Processing Lab at Maguire Air Force Base, N.J., where it is sent to troops who need it, or can be frozen for up to 10 years in storage, said Richards.
According to Richards, recruits are the most ideal candidates for donation because of the abundance in numbers and because the eligibility rate for donation is higher.
"You're supply is our supply,' is what we tell recruits," he said." You never know when you'll be the one who'll need it. Even though their drill instructors may give them a hard time, the recruits can go to sleep at night knowing they did something positive. That really gets them pumped."
Despite the stressful atmosphere a recruit may endure while in training, one thing was unanimous among the hundreds of recruits gathered inside the chapel preparing to donate -- they felt good about doing something positive for the troops, whom they may one day serve alongside.
"I'm glad that I can contribute to the war effort while in recruit training," said Recruit Thomas M. Forcier Jr., Platoon 2042, Golf Co., 2nd RTBn.
"I feel it is necessary to give blood for a good cause," added his platoon mate, Recruit Gulaid S. Ismail.
The blood collection team collects 200-300 units of blood per week from recruits during the rifle qualification portion of their training. Since the blood drives started in February, more than 1,800 units of blood have been collected. The blood drives will continue to take place at the Weapon's Chapel every Sunday at noon, until enough blood has been collected, said Richards.
"We're really thankful that the commanding general gave us the thumbs up to do this and for the [Weapon's Bn.] who helped to coordinate this," said Richards.
"It's good that we can pull together to save lives, whether it's saving lives with your weapon, or the distributions of blood to troops overseas," he said.