As the Korean War escalated, the Western Pacific Railroad considered ideas to support the troops overseas. An idea is proposed, often credited to WP's innovative PR director Gilbert Kneiss, to work with the Red Cross to equip a passenger car as a rolling blood collection center.
The concept of a large, long distance travelling blood collection center, let alone one that was a railroad car, was an idea that had never been tried. Previous blood collection centers were all in urban areas and the bloodmobiles attached to them stayed in very close proximity, less than 75 miles. The Blood Procurement Car would eventually, in some cases, see its collected blood travel over 1,300 miles to a processing center.
To create its blood procurement car, the Western Pacific chose Eastern Division Superintendent's Car 106, a Pullman executive observation car. The 106 had been built by Pullman in September 1917 as part of a set of three cars: the "Patriot", the "Pilgrim" and the "Pioneer", which was the future 106. All three were used in Pullman's lease fleet, a steam era version of an executive jet timeshare.
It was deemed appropriate to name the car in honor of the first WP employee killed in the war, former WP carman and US Army medic Charles Sweetwood. On January 10, 1951, in a huge ceremony in Oakland, WP President Frederick Whitman presented the newly christened "Charles O. Sweetwood" to Raymond H, Barrows of the American Red Cross.