August 22, 2014, PEARL HARBOR (NNS) – The crew of Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Buffalo (SSN 715), their family and friends came out in numbers to support the Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP), Aug. 20, at a blood drive held adjacent to the submarine piers aboard Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
The turnout for this blood drive, the sixth in the last 18 months for Buffalo, is the best yet, as Tripler Army Medical Center’s (TAMC) phlebotomists were able to collect 98 pints of blood during the drive.
“Ninety-eight pints is an excellent turnout,” said Michelle Lele, the ASBP recruiter for TAMC. “I wish we had more commands that were able to sponsor large drives like this.”
One recipient of such donations, former Army Staff Sgt. Jed Kennedy, a Purple Heart recipient and brother of Buffalo’s engineering officer, encouraged the boat’s Sailors to make a life-saving contribution.
“Your contributions that you make do go to a good purpose,” said Jed Kennedy to the crew Aug. 15 at quarters on the pier. “If there weren’t people out there willing to give blood, then I wouldn’t be here today. I am so thankful for anybody who takes the time to go out and give.”
Jed Kennedy detailed his battlefield injuries he received while on patrol in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, while serving with the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, where he was shot through the chest, requiring immediate medical attention and 10 units of blood products to recover from his wounds.
Now separated from the Army, Jed Kennedy was visiting his brother, Lt. Cmdr. Jake Kennedy, who asked Jed to talk to the boat’s Sailors to provide a real life example of how their blood donations directly impact soldiers, airmen and Sailors in the field.
“I know it’s something else they have to do on an already loaded schedule, but it might be the thing that saves somebody’s life,” said Jed.
The energetic and lively recounting of his experiences worked to motivate the Sailors in achieving their highest donation rate yet.
“The numbers reflected the call to service of Sgt. Kennedy and the accompanying feelings of these Sailors,” said Buffalo’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Brian Tothero. “These units of life-saving fluids will be used where they are most needed at nearby Tripler Army Medical Center, and in various forward-deployed locations in Afghanistan and other areas around the world.”
“It really shows how much people actually need donated blood,” said Electronics Technician Seaman Jacob Ellis. “I think a lot of people donate and don’t think they are making that big of a difference, but they really can save someone’s life.”
Buffalo has sponsored blood drives about once per quarter. After the last drive, the engineering officer, Lt. Cmdr. Jake Kennedy, informed Tothero of his brother’s experiences and how he was grateful that this was a command initiative to send blood to theater operations. When hearing that the family was visiting the island, it was a golden opportunity to set up a guest speaker for this next blood drive.
“We were very blessed that my brother, Jed, was able to make it out of there alive,” said Jake Kennedy as he recounted his brother’s ordeal. “We were especially blessed with the donors and the amount of blood they did have at the forward operating base.”
“It’s really heartwarming to see the Sailors of Buffalo, who are ‘my family,’ providing all this support to our brothers-in-arms in Afghanistan,” said Jake Kennedy.
ASBP provides quality blood products for service members, veterans and their families in both peace and war. As a joint operation among the military services, the ASBP has many components working together to collect, process, store, distribute and transfuse blood worldwide.
The blood and blood products are used for patients of all ages for many reasons from cancer patients to those with battlefield injuries. Military members and their families depend on blood donors every day.
To find out more about the ASBP, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on the ASBP website at www.militaryblood.dod.mil/Donors/donor_faq.aspx.