Blood donor for more than 50 years visits Fort Benning to donate platelets
Story and photos by Megan Garcia, Fort Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence Public Affairs
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Sept. 14, 2017) –Since 1965, 81-year-old Al Whitney has made it his personal goal to save lives one unit of blood at a time.
“One day, I just heard a voice that said, ‘Al, you can do more,’” said Whitney, a native of Ohio.
He decided to switch to platelet donations sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s and continued his crusade until that small voice returned once again in 2007.
“And I heard again, ‘Al, you can do more,”’ he said.
Whitney decided he would donate platelets in every state, completing this task in 2012. He’s currently on his second tour across the U.S. and visited Fort Benning for the first time Sept. 5 to donate blood platelets at the on-post Sullivan Memorial Blood Center.
Lt. Col. Sheldon Morris, the battalion commander for the 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry Regiment, 194th Armored Brigade, here, escorted Whitney around the post to give him a comprehensive view of how the 194th Armored Brigade supports the mission of the Maneuver Center of Excellence. Morris ensured Whitney met various leaders and Soldiers within the brigade, as well as get up close and personal with some of the training Initial Entry Soldiers go through during their time in basic training.
“This was his first time to Fort Benning, so this was an opportunity for me to inform and educate Mr. Whitney of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Georgia’s, support to Army readiness, while highlighting our relationship with the Columbus and surrounding areas as it supports the Army,” Morris said.
Whitney visited the qualification range where Soldiers training to become Calvary Scouts were qualifying on the MK 19 grenade machine gun. He also visited instructors in charge of the Common Driver Trainer where Soldiers learn to operate various military vehicles in a virtual environment.
Whitney, who said he only expected to come give platelets and leave, was very appreciative of what he called “the red carpet treatment.”
“You guys have blown me away; it’s more than I envisioned,” he said. “I’m truly overwhelmed. This is very enlightening.”
However, Whitney wasn’t the only one who was appreciative of the day’s events.
CDT Senior Trainer Manager Staff Sgt. Anthony Malagoli, who began donating blood in 2008, said he was thankful to meet someone who supports service members through giving blood.
Morris agreed it was definitely an honor to escort Whitney around.
“To be around a selfless servant like Mr. Whitney was a privilege and an honor,” Morris said.
Nevertheless, Whitney said he doesn’t do it for the accolades nor does he care to know who is benefitting from his donations as long as someone can live.
“Somebody’s getting it, and it’s going to extend their life,” Whitney said. “That’s the important thing. As far as knowing who it is, I don’t need know. People praise me for what I’m doing, and I don’t need the praise. All I need is for people to donate blood. Take the time. Save a life. Donate blood.”
About the Armed Services Blood Program
Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide. As one of four national blood collection organizations trusted to ensure the nation has a safe, potent blood supply, the ASBP works closely with our civilian counterparts by sharing donors on military installations where there are no military blood collection centers and by sharing blood products in times of need to maximize availability of this national treasure. To find out more about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment to donate, please visit www.militaryblood.dod.mil. To interact directly with ASBP staff members, see more photos or get the latest news, follow @militaryblood on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Pinterest. Find the drop. Donate.
The Armed Services Blood Program is a proud recipient of the Army Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs award for journalism.