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Army Vet Receives Blood in Korea, Grandson Donates 3 Gallons of Blood
By Jeffery Diffy, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, North Chicago, Ill.
Seaman Recruit Jacob Schmitzerle is a three-gallon blood donor and will continue donating blood while serving in the U.S. Navy. His grandfather, retired Army Cpl. Esquiel B. Leos, served in the Army during the Korean War and required a blood transfusion after being injured in battle.
Retired Army Cpl. Esquiel B. Leos is “Army Strong.” He has proven it. Even though he sits today in a veteran’s home in Chula Vista, Calif., that won’t stop him from seeing his grandson, Seaman Recruit Jacob Schmitzerle, graduate boot camp March 10. He will watch the graduation using a website linked directly to Great Lakes, Ill.
Schmitzerle donated blood while attending boot camp because he knows just how important blood donations were for his grandfather, who needed blood while deployed on the battlefields of the Korean War.
Schmitzerle’s mother, Malinda DeFoor, shared her father’s story:
“Army Cpl. Esequiel B. Leos of the 7th Infantry Division was wounded in battle during the Korean War on May 15, 1953,” she said. “It was dark out and smoke filled the air. Shots were being fired all around. He had never been so scared. After feeling sharp pains, he dove into a foxhole. He was hit.”
According to DeFoor, Leos required several surgeries to remove all the shrapnel from his left leg. He also required a blood transfusion. For his bravery and service to his country, he received a Purple Heart. After recovering from his battle wounds, Leos continued the rest of his service at Fort Hachuca in Arizona.
At the time of his injuries, a program to get blood to the battlefield was still in its infancy.
When the Korean War broke out on June 25, 1950, the military was working to improve its peacetime plan for gathering blood products. While no well-organized blood bank system was in operation, a plan for the supply of whole blood and plasma did exist for the first time. However, it had not yet been implemented — having been prepared only a short time before the outbreak of hostilities. As North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel, the system for collecting military blood was in its infancy. Unable to meet wartime blood requirements on its own, the military turned to civilian collection programs to help care for the troops.
Blood was collected stateside and funneled to Korea through two points: Travis Air Force Base in California and the 406th General Medical Laboratory in Tokyo, Japan. Estimated requirements were based on experience from World War II. Type O-negative blood was preferred as it could be given to recipients of any blood type. Though dog tags listed blood type, there was an 8 percent error rate in the types printed on them. Rather than risk a transfusion reaction, physicians preferred to transfuse only the universal blood type. Using type O-negative blood meant there was no wait for cross-matching, no need for specialized lab techs and fewer units required to maintain adequate stocks. These advantages allowed blood to be available at smaller front line units, where it benefited those injured most.
Later, as the Korean War intensified, the blood supply from civilian collection agencies in the U.S. was not sufficient enough to meet all the military's blood requirements. As a result, the Armed Forces Blood Donor Program was founded in 1951, although it was not formally established by Department of Defense Directive 750.10-1 until Aug. 2, 1952. (Read more about the
history of the Army Blood Program
Schmitzerle will train to become an aviation structural mechanic in Pensacola, Fla., after he graduates from boot camp. Prior to his Navy adventure, which is just now underway, he worked as a bar tender in a movie theater and as a deli clerk at a local grocery store. He also completed all four years of high school in the Air Force Junior ROTC program and was awarded the National Honors Society cord at graduation. He also earned the Retired Enlisted Medal for Scholastic Achievement and for community service.
“My grandfather is every bit the hero they say he is,” he said. “He has been there for me every step of the way 100 percent of the time. It kills me to see him in his current state; he has always been a strong supporter of the military and of my goals.”
Schmitzerle know about accomplishing goals. He decided to become a blood donor and has completed three gallons of blood donations.
In addition, he decided to set a weight loss goal when he once weighed 300 pounds so he could join the Navy. Over the course of two years, he was able to achieve a goal weight of 182 pounds and he was able to enlist.
“That was a long hard goal, but it was worth it in the end,” he said.
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
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