By Seth Robson, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Wednesday, February 7, 2007

GRAFENWOHR, Germany – Officials are expecting some 800 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment soldiers to give blood this week in an effort to break the U.S. Army Europe record for a blood drive.

The soldiers’ efforts come at just the right time for comrades downrange, according to Maj. Matthew Rice, 36, the 2nd Cav medical officer, who is overseeing his unit’s participation in the driv.

“With the upcoming Baghdad offensive, I don’t think any of it will expire on the shelves,” he said Tuesday at Vilseck’s Yesterday’s Club, which is serving as a makeshift clinic for donations.

The drive runs through Friday. On Monday, 170 soldiers showed up to give blood, with 120 units successfully collected, Rice said.

“Our goal for the week is to collect 800 units, which would be the largest in the history of USAREUR. The record daily take is 200 units,” added Rice, a Tiburon, Calif., native, who donated a pint of his own blood.

Capt. Philip Bossart, 41, of Pittsburgh, who heads the USAREUR Donor Center that collects the blood, said the Vilseck effort is huge compared to most. “Our average blood drive is about 50 units (pints), and we collected a total of about 4,000 pints in 2006,” he said.

On Tuesday, white-coated technicians from the 266th Medical Logistics Battalion and the 212th Combat Support Hospital screened patients and made them comfortable on stretchers while the blood was taken.

Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Company soldier Sgt. Lidia Redd, 30, of New York, looked away when a needle was inserted in her arm.

“It’s horrible every time. I’m afraid of needles,” she said.

Another 2nd Cav soldier, Spc. Benjamin Vogelseng, 26, of New York, said it was the fifth time he had donated.

“It seems like the right thing to do. Somebody out there might need it. You feel proud of yourself, but you are tired and usually want to take a nap afterward,” he said.

For more information on the USAREUR blood program and how often one can donate, go to: http://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/usareur/index.htm.

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