Red Cross, American Legion team up for critical blood drive

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald: The hall at the Post 28 American Legion was the scene of much activity during the American Red Cross blood drive held there March 17. Fortunately, there were enough donors to create an average of 10 people waiting to donate while others were in the process of donating blood.

“Now we’re fighting an invisible enemy.”

Vietnam veteran Larry Avila

By Walt Mares

America is at war. That is the way Larry Avila sees it. If anybody knows about war it is Avila. He is a Vietnam War veteran who saw combat action.

That is how he refers to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across America as well as globally. As is war the pandemic is potentially deadly, said Avila, spokesman for the American Legion Post 28 in Clifton.

Avila made his remarks as the Legion hosted an American Red Cross blood drive in Clifton on March 17. The legion regularly provides its hall to the Red Cross for its drives. It does so at no charge.

He said the recent event is one of the most critical for the donation of blood because of the pandemic. “It’s very, very important for people to donate (blood) because of what’s going on. Basically we’re in an all-out war for survival. Donating blood means saving countless lives.”

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald: Clifton Police Chief Omar Negrete squeezes an object to help keep blood flowing as he donates at an American Red Cros blood drive. At left is Red Cross technician Bradley Schubert. Negrete stepped up, as did many, to donate blood as the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the U.S.

Avila said that this is, of course, a totally different type of war than what he experienced. “Now we’re fighting an invisible enemy. How do you do that? We need to use the same approach like we do in fighting an enemy we can see. We have to work closely together and communicate. We need to think about and care about each other.”

That is the Legion’s approach in closely cooperating with the Red Cross.

“One of our greatest strengths in America is people coming together for a common cause – to look out for one another,” he said. “And for the Legion, working with the Red Cross is an important way of doing that.”

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald: Jon Antonson, of Clifton, donates blood at a recent blood drive held at the Post 28 American Legion Hall in Clifton. Antonson is a regular donor. Tending to him is Bradley Schubert of the American Red Cross, which holds regular blood drives at the Legion Hall. The need for blood donations is particularly critical as the U.S. is at present hard hit by the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus pandemic.

He added that historically the American Red Cross has played a critical role. “How can we forget how important the Red Cross has been for service members during times of war. It was really critical during World War II and the Korean War. The same way during Vietnam and the wars we’re engaged in now. There’s many a veteran who was and still is very grateful to the Red Cross. God bless them.”

Avila said the Post 28 Legion encourages veterans and members of the general public to donate blood. “Again, remember we’re all Americans and we’re all in this together. God bless America.”

The next Red Cross blood drive at Post 28 will be held May 12 and again on July 14. To contact the Red Cross call 800-733-2767. It can also be contacted online.