Former airman from Spooner continues to aim high by donating lifesaving blood

By Laura McGuire, American Red Cross

Armed Forces Day is a federal holiday observed annually on the third Saturday of May. It is a day dedicated to honoring men and women who currently serve in the United States’ armed forces. In support of this day, the American Red Cross pays tribute to James Bishop, from Spooner, a former airman who started giving blood in the 1970s.

Bishop got directly involved in the need for blood when a commanding officer underwent surgery at their base.

“In 1972 at Great Falls, Montana, Malmstrom Air Force Base, the ‘Sarge’, a great guy, was having open heart surgery,” said Bishop.

“We got word that donating blood would defray the cost of his surgery and would generally help him. We were told our blood would replace any of the units he used. About 20 of us piled into cars and went downtown to the blood donation center.”

The “Sarge” eventually recovered thanks to the blood products available and he returned to duty. “After donating, we all felt pretty good about it.”

Bishop donated over two gallons of blood over his four-year tour and continues to donate today at the Red Cross Community Blood Drive in Spooner.

Every two seconds in the United States blood is needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. The Red Cross must collect nearly 13,000 blood and more than 2,600 platelet donations every day for the patients at about 2,500 hospitals nationwide.

To encourage others who may be hesitant to donate Bishop says, “Your selfless giving makes you one of the noble many. I say continue the course. Do something outside of your comfort zone and give of yourself.”

In addition to providing biomedical services, the Red Cross proudly serves our nation’s military personnel and their families, including active duty, National Guard and Reserve, as well as veterans. For more than 135 years, the Red Cross has provided critical assistance to military families – beginning with our founder, Clara Barton, on Civil War battlefields. Recognizing service members and veterans is ingrained in the foundation of the Red Cross, on Armed Forces Day and throughout the year.

The Red Cross supports military members from the moment they enlist to the moment they separate from the service – and beyond. We offer critical assistance and resources to service members, veterans and their families globally 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In 2020 alone, Wisconsin Region Red Cross staff and dozens of volunteers provided case services for 3,669 military personnel and their family.

Blood and platelet donors of all types are needed this month to help ensure blood products are available for patients now and into summer. In thanks for making it a summer full of life, those who come to give May 1-15 will receive a $5 Gift Card by email. Those who make it in to donate in May will also automatically be entered for a chance to win a travel trailer camper that sleeps five, powered by Suburban Propane.* Additional details are available at

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