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Fort Bliss — As our country memorialized the 12-year anniversary of terroristic attacks against the United States, Soldiers in 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade sponsored a blood drive with the Armed Services Blood Program, the official military blood program.
The “Imperial Brigade” came out in full force to support the life saving mission of the ASBP. More than 140 units of blood were collected during the two-day blood drive. The ASBP sends blood to Afghanistan for our injured service members.
During the blood drive, the unit’s youngest private was donating blood when others were reflecting where they were on that fateful day.
The day was Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, and Pvt. Wesley Wooten of 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 11th ADA Bde., was a seven-year-old boy in second grade when two planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, a third plane hit the Pentagon and a fourth jet crashed in Pennsylvania field.
“I don’t remember much about that day,” said Wooten, now a 19-year-old Patriot fire control enhanced operator and maintainer from Sweeny, Texas.
Too young to remember the tragic events launched against our nation, Wooten only recalls teachers talking about the catastrophic events America suffered and the countless videos of the planes crashing into the towers being played repeatedly.
“I heard a lot of people talking about it but I didn’t know what was happening,” said Wooten.
After school, Wooten’s parents explained what happened – extremists hijacked four airlines and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States.
Being a typical kid, Wooten went about his normal business – going outside and tending to their animals.
It wasn’t until sixth grade that Wooten learned what the events of 9/11 represented. When Wooten was able to comprehend the horrific events launched against America, he felt anger.
“My father is retired from the Navy and my brother was just joining the Army when 9/11 happened and I wanted to follow my family tradition,” said Wooten.
One year ago, Wooten joined the Army.
Wooten paid tribute to his country and fellow service members by donating blood to the ASBP to fulfill his duty for fellow service members serving in harm’s way who may need blood.
“I’m here to do my part, serve my country and do the best at my job,” smiled Wooten.
The ASBP provides quality blood products for service members, veterans and their families in both peace and war. Regular blood drives are held because blood only has a shelf life of 42 days.
Spc. Paul Kisela, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 43 Air Defense Artillery, 11th Bde., ADA, was also a grade schooler 12 years ago.
“I was 11 years old in science class when my teacher turned on the TV,” said Kisela, a microwave systems operator maintainer. “The first tower had been hit and I remember the plane going into the second tower.”
Like Wooten, Kisela didn’t know what was happening.
“I knew it was bad but I didn’t comprehend the magnitude of the event,” said Kisela.
Kisela’s mom asked him if he had seen the news and tried to explain what happened.
“She said it was terrorists – bad people that didn’t like America hit us,” said Kisela.
Kisela had always aspired to join the Army. He too donated blood on the day America will never forget.
“Donating blood today on 9/11 has significance to me because we have troops overseas and I’m here, so it’s the least I can do to help,” explained Kisela.
Fort Bliss is one of 22 collection sites in the United States responsible for the collection and distribution of blood products globally. Additionally, Fort Bliss is one of six Army blood donor centers that supply the weekly CENTCOM blood mission. Soldiers, spouses, dependents and DOD employees are encouraged to donate blood to the ASBP.
To schedule a blood drive, call the Blood Donor Center, 742-6365. The Blood Donor Center is located at Bldg. 7167, Lower Beaumont.
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