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One more for the road

Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide. Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide.

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Armed Services Blood Program

WASHINGTON — For some, donating blood is one of the last tasks ahead of relocation or retirement. Peter Williams, a repeat donor with the Pentagon Blood Donor Center, contributed one last whole blood donation with the center upon his retirement as a contractor with the Department of Defense.

Williams’ first encounter with blood donation was in 1970 during Navy recruit training at Great Lakes, Illinois. “It was our third day at boot camp… the company I was in was marched into a big auditorium on base and was ordered to line up to give blood.” he said, “We were told that the blood would be put on an aircraft that afternoon heading for immediate use in Vietnam.”

Williams served two tours in Vietnam as an ensign in 1973, and as a lieutenant in 1975 assigned to the amphibious landing ship-tank, the USS Frederick for the evacuation of Saigon; during this period there were no facilities for giving, storing, or transporting blood on these types of smaller ships. Knowing the importance of having a ready supply of blood for the troops, Williams became a regular blood donor.

Pictured (Left to right): Navy Hospital Corpsman Third Class Castro, Peter Williams and Hospital Corpsman Third Class Nielsen. Castro and Nielsen present Williams a donor appreciation certificate at Pentagon Blood Donor Center.
Pictured (Left to right): Navy Hospital Corpsman Third Class Castro, Peter Williams and Hospital Corpsman Third Class Nielsen. Castro and Nielsen present Williams a donor appreciation certificate at Pentagon Blood Donor Center.

Before working in the Pentagon, Williams donated to a civilian blood donor center. However, his volunteerism as a regular blood donor was put on pause when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Williams would have to wait to give blood once his tests demonstrated that he was clear of cancer.

Then, one day while walking to lunch after starting his position at the Pentagon, Williams discovered the PBDC and learned that the military accepted blood from retirees. By then, Williams was cancer-free and determined to resume regular blood donation. It took a few months to provide the proper documentation that he was eligible to donate, but once he did, Williams became a regular supporter and donor to the PBDC.

Williams is especially fond of the PBDC because his donation experience has been personal, and he has developed a familiarity with the staff. He likened the relationships he’s established with them as baring similarity to that of “close co-workers”. Apart from taking the time to donate with PBDC, he has written the chain of command expressing his satisfaction with the donor experience there.

Williams said, “As a retiree, I may not be eligible to serve in uniform anymore, but I can sure serve my country as a consultant for the DoD and help service members and their families through blood donations.”

Williams’ donations and support were recognized during the May 2018 Armed Services Blood Bank Center Appreciation Event; he was issued his certificate of recognition by the Pentagon technician during his last blood donation with the PBDC. In the wake of 17 whole blood units, the PBDC bids “farewell and following seas” to a dedicated donor, Sailor, Vietnam veteran and retiree on his next adventure.

To become a blood donor, visit ASBP’s Where to Give Blood.

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