U.S. Stores Donated Blood for Emergency Use During Cobra Gold Exercise

The Armed Services Blood Bank Center, as part of the Armed Services Blood Program, collected and delivered donated blood to two civilian hospitals here for storage for potential emergency use by U.S. service members participating in this year’s Cobra Gold exercise.

The blood was delivered to Bangkok Hospital Pattaya and Bangkok Hospital Chanthanburi Feb. 10.

The blood drives were conducted from American bases and camps around Okinawa, Japan, and the blood was transported to Thailand.

“We supply all the operations that the military conducts in the Pacific,” said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Oscar Valdueza, the lead petty officer and public affairs specialist for the Armed Services Blood Bank Center. “This blood is for [exercise] Cobra Gold [2018].”

Annual Exercise in Thailand

Exercise Cobra Gold 2018 is an annual exercise conducted in Thailand, held from Feb. 13-23, with seven full participating nations.

The blood was sent to the hospitals to be stored and available for use by U.S. troops in case of an accident during the exercise.

“We prestage the blood at host nation hospitals because Thailand has a great network that is able to hold and facilitate our blood in the event of an emergency,” said Navy Lt. Nii Adjei Oninku, III Marine Expeditionary Force health service support officer. “Blood is the same as any other medical supplies. We bring our own bandages, gauze and tongue suppressors. So, we bring our own blood, too.”

According to Lt. Oninku, after the exercise the remaining donated blood will be turned over to the local hospitals for their use.

Programs like the Armed Services Blood Bank Center are aimed at improving the quality of life, as well as the general health and welfare, of civilian residents in the exercise areas.

“Every time there is a blood drive I try to donate,” said Marine Corps Pfc. Melvin Barnard, a defense clerk with Legal Services Support Section at Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan. “I started donating because I figured it could help someone. So, why not do it?”