News: ‘Lava Dogs’ sign up with DOD Bone Marrow Program registry
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Kaneohe Bay - The smell of barbeque wafted in the air just behind Pollock Field as Marines and sailors from 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment relaxed and enjoyed their Friday afternoon, Oct. 26. But along with games, food and general chit-chat, many service members were rubbing the inside of their cheek with a cotton swab.
Marine Corps Base Hawaii is participating in a basewide drive to
register service members with the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program until Nov. 30.
Because 1st Bn., 3rd Marines is scheduled to deploy soon, a drive was held during their family day last week. Another drive will take place at Mokapu Mall, though the date has yet to be determined.
Service members were encouraged to fill out an application and provide four samples of cheek cells taken with a cotton swab. According to the program website, the information will be entered into the National Marrow Donor Program registry. If there is a match between someone in the registry and a patient who needs marrow, that person will, with their consent, undergo additional blood and health testing to further confirm a definite match and the determine whether that person is able to donate.
This year and last year alone, two Marines from MCB Hawaii have
already been confirmed as matches for patients. Lance Cpl. Brantley Smith, a communications technician with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and Lance Cpl. Joshua D. Epps, a machine gunner with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, both underwent surgery and donated their marrow.
“Our mission is to get as much DOD (participants who) can help out families in need,” said Chief Petty Officer Arvin Salas, a hospital corpsman with 21st Dental Company.
According to Salas, a drive is held every three years.
“Every 300 that registers, one gets called,” Salas said. “The more people we can help the better.”
Salas said a bone marrow transplant can raise a patient’s chances of living from zero to 80 percent.
“It can happen to anybody,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Dennis Gonzales of being chosen to donate. “It’s a one in 300 chance. You can always be that one. Who’s to say it won’t be my kid 10 years from now (who needs marrow).”
Gonzales added that service members are “prime donors,” as they are already required to be physically fit to serve in the military.
“Everyone should have a second chance at life,” said Pfc. Tommy Arko, a mortarman with Weapons Company, 1st Bn., 3rd Marines.
Arko was one of many service members filling out applications and
For more information about the DOD Marrow Donor Program, visit