Deployed Forces: 25th CAB hosts successful bone marrow drive at COB Speicher

| July 16, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photo by 
Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ryan Maltsberger, left, Company A, 3rd Battalion, 25th General Support Aviation Battalion, Task Force Hammerhead, 25th Infantry Division, completes a bone marrow registration kit during a registration drive at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, near Tikrit, Iraq, recently. The bone marrow drive registered 2,050 people.TIKRIT, Iraq — For nearly 25 years, the Department of Defense has championed bone marrow registration through a DoD Marrow Donor Program to assist thousands of people searching for bone marrow matches.

The Soldiers of the 209th Aviation Support Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, “Task Force Lobos,” 25th Infantry Division, led the efforts, here, registering 2,050 people at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, near Tikrit, Iraq, recently.

Staff Sgt. Brian Cashell, Company B, 209th Avn. Spt. Bn., 25th CAB, spearheaded the weeklong, all-volunteer initiative, as he had previous experience overseeing a blood and bone marrow registration drive at Wheeler Army Airfield, on Oahu, Hawaii, where nearly 1,500 people registered. 

 “I read a quote a long time ago that I liked (by Albert Pike): ‘What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others in the world remains and is immortal.’” Cashell said. “I’ve always liked that, and I realized this is something that should be ongoing.”

Cashell said he knew he would need a new pool of potential donors to be successful this time around.

“I realized I pretty much dried up the well within this brigade last year,” he said, “so we found a new pool with the 3rd Infantry Division and all the civilians here. Instead of trying to do it one more time back in Hawaii, and get fewer numbers, I figured I’d expose more people to it and educate them about the C.W. Bill Young DoD Marrow Donor Program. A lot of people didn’t know what it was about or what was going on. This way we’ve enlightened more people about the need for (becoming) bone marrow donors.”

The Soldiers of TF Lobos supported the initiative with companies A, B and C, all providing personnel. The unit’s determination to exceed its 2,000-person registration goal meant using multiple locations throughout COB Speicher, to include the dining facilities and the main post exchange, where their presence would motivate other Soldiers to register.

“(I registered) because I enjoy giving back. I like to do things to help other people, especially children,” said Pfc. Tiffany Gordon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 25th CAB. “I was nervous at first because I heard the (actual marrow transplant) procedure is painful, but I like to give back, and any (discomfort) would be worth it if somebody else could live because of me.”

According to Cashell, the registration and selection process is simple and quite painless. After four cheek swabs, each individual is registered as a potential volunteer bone marrow donor. 

Each participant’s tissue type is determined and entered into the DoD and other national registries. Once registered, bone marrow transplant medical teams throughout the U.S. and the world can search the registries to match donors with those who need a transplant.

Cashell said he hopes the bone marrow registration continues, even after he departs TF Wings. 

“I think the statistics are for every 300 people that register, one of them will be a match,” Cashell said. “So between our last two drives, we’ve gotten over 3,000 people to register. So we’ve (potentially) got at least 10 matches right off the bat.” 

With the support of the Soldiers and every echelon of his chain of command, Cashell and his team were able to achieve their goal of 2,000 registrations. 

“Everybody was very supportive of the program, and it worked out well,” Cashell said. “I’m very glad people came out and actually supported us. This is something that everyone should take on, so it spreads throughout the Army. (Hopefully,) we can get a majority of the DoD registered.”

Call the C.W. Bill Young DoD Marrow Donor Program at 800-MARROW-3 (800-627-7693) for a program overview, additional details of the registration process and donor drive schedules.

Category: Deployed Forces, News

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