NEWS | Feb. 13, 2018

Cobra Gold 18: Thailand and U.S. Forces Strengthen Bond through Blood Storage

By Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony III Marine Expeditionary Force

PATTAYA, Thailand -- The Armed Services Blood Bank Center ( ASBBC) collected and delivered donated blood to Bangkok Hospital Pattaya and Bangkok Hospital Chanthanburi, Thailand, Feb. 10, 2018.

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

“We supply all the operations that the military conducts in the Pacific,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Oscar Valdueza, the lead petty officer and public affairs specialist for the ASBBC. “This blood is for [Exercise] Cobra Gold [2018].”

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

The blood was sent to the hospitals to be stored in the event of a mishap involving U.S. Armed Forces.

“We pre-stage 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 U.S. 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 ASBBC 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 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.”