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Col. Chuck Dallachie, right, commanding officer of the 3rd Material Readiness Battalion, accepts the 2003 Command Award of Excellence from Capt. Dale Molé, executive officer of the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, while Petty Officer 1st Class Stuart Satter, 3rd MRB, looks on. The unit received the award for their efforts in supporting the Armed Services Blood Bank Center with at least one blood drive a month.

Col. Chuck Dallachie, right, commanding officer of the 3rd Material Readiness Battalion, accepts the 2003 Command Award of Excellence from Capt. Dale Molé, executive officer of the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, while Petty Officer 1st Class Stuart Satter, 3rd MRB, looks on. The unit received the award for their efforts in supporting the Armed Services Blood Bank Center with at least one blood drive a month. (Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa)

Col. Chuck Dallachie, right, commanding officer of the 3rd Material Readiness Battalion, accepts the 2003 Command Award of Excellence from Capt. Dale Molé, executive officer of the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, while Petty Officer 1st Class Stuart Satter, 3rd MRB, looks on. The unit received the award for their efforts in supporting the Armed Services Blood Bank Center with at least one blood drive a month.

Col. Chuck Dallachie, right, commanding officer of the 3rd Material Readiness Battalion, accepts the 2003 Command Award of Excellence from Capt. Dale Molé, executive officer of the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, while Petty Officer 1st Class Stuart Satter, 3rd MRB, looks on. The unit received the award for their efforts in supporting the Armed Services Blood Bank Center with at least one blood drive a month. (Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa)

Mayra Kent, a volunteer with the 18th Medical Group from Kadena Air Base, receives the 2003 Civilian Award of Excellence from Capt. Dale Molé, the executive officer of the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. Kent received the award for coordinating a bimonthly blood drive at the 18th Medical Group that benefits the Armed Services Blook Bank.

Mayra Kent, a volunteer with the 18th Medical Group from Kadena Air Base, receives the 2003 Civilian Award of Excellence from Capt. Dale Molé, the executive officer of the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. Kent received the award for coordinating a bimonthly blood drive at the 18th Medical Group that benefits the Armed Services Blook Bank. (Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa)

CAMP LESTER, Okinawa — The Armed Services Blood Bank Center recently handed out two new awards, one to a unit and one to an individual, for going the extra mile in helping collect donations on Okinawa.

The 3rd Materiel Readiness Battalion earned the 2003 Command Award of Excellence; Mayra Kent, an 18th Medical Group volunteer on Kadena Air Base, earned the 2003 Civilian Award of Excellence.

“We like to recognize the people that go the extra mile … it’s our policy to recognize the people that make it happen,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Van Patten, ASBBC director.

Saw need firsthand

Accepting the command award was unit commanding officer Col. Chuck Dallachie.

Becky Leavitt, blood-donor recruiter, said Van Patten is responsible for the unit winning the award.

“We try to get 300 units a month here, and his unit gave us 400 units last year,” Leavitt said. “The amazing part is that 70 percent of that came after July when he took over command.”

She said the unit’s monthly blood drives always have a big turnout. At a recent drive, 70 of the unit’s 100 Ordnance Maintenance Company Marines showed up and 60 units were collected.

“You never see that kind of turnout,” Leavitt said.

Dallachie said there are two reasons why his Marines show up at the blood drives: his offer of a day off for anyone who donates and his personal story.

“When I got here in July, the first drive was already scheduled,” Dallachie said. “They only got 12 units and they said that was average. There was no incentive for Marines to give, so I decided to get serious about it.”

While a day off may sweeten the deal, Dallachie said his Marines give because it’s the right thing to do.

He said some who donated in August are just now using their day off, and some don’t want a free day for giving.

The other reason he thinks his Marines donate is because he tells them how he survived the Oct. 23, 1983 Beirut barracks bombing that killed 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers.

When the truck bomb hit the barracks, Dallachie was in his room with three other Marines. He was the only one in the room to survive.

He said he suffered broken bones and internal injuries and only lived because of donated blood and a Marine who knew CPR.

Two hours after the blast, he was on the USS Iwo Jima, watching as blood was pumped directly from volunteers into his fellow wounded troops.

Because of that, he stresses the importance of blood donations and requires his Marines to be CPR qualified.

“I had given blood before the bombing, about three or four times, but it definitely changed my view about [blood donation],” he said.

Making donating fun

Mayra Kent said she helps because she feels it’s the right thing to do.

Kent also rewards donors, but instead of days off, she fills their stomachs. She said she’s Hispanic and loves to cook, so for every bimonthly drive she helps coordinate, she cooks a feast for those who donate.

Her first four drives featured Mexican dishes; then she tried her hand at Italian fare and a barbecue with a Texas flare.

“There were maybe 15 to 20 [donors] coming to the drives when I took over,” she said. “They gave out the typical punch and cookies, but I thought I could attract more people with food … everybody loves to eat. You can buy cookies in a store any time, but you can’t always get homemade food.”

Kent said she’s always been a blood donor, but this is the first time she’s helped on the other side. She is part of the 18th Medical Group spouses club and had the chance to help organize the drives when the prior person in the position moved.

“It just kind of fell into my lap,” she said.

Leavitt said Kent’s drives are popular not only because of the food, but the atmosphere.

“She has turned it into a social event,” Leavitt said. “She makes it into a party and does what we wish we could do for every drive.”

Kent said in addition to the food, she has music playing to give the drive a festive feel. She said people don’t mind waiting an hour or more, when they’re having fun.

Kent said she’s moving back to America soon, but after her experience here, she wants to stay involved with blood drives.

“It’s a passion I have now,” she said.

Leavitt said the ASBBC has collected almost 4,000 units of blood this year, and it wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the 3rd MRB and Mayra Kent.

“There is no way we would’ve made our quota this year if it hadn’t been for them,” Leavitt said. “There is no way to thank them enough.”

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