Four veterans were presented with Quilts of Valor this week Eisenhower Recreation Center.
Handcrafted by members of the Khaki Quilters, a chapter of the Quilting Guild of The Villages, the quilts are awarded to veterans to honor them for their sacrifice. Each piece is personalized to the recipient’s journey in the service and presented in front of family and friends in a ceremony meant to thank them for their contribution to the nation.
Sheila Robbins, the event coordinator and a retired member of the United States Navy, has arranged the presentation of over 120 quilts since March 2015. Three ceremonies have been held so far this year, the latest of which provided quilts to World War II and Vietnam veterans in April. Events like this help to keep the memory of these veterans alive.
“We hope you will keep this quilt with you as a tangible reminder that there are thousands of women and men across this land who are forever in your debt, and it is our pleasure to honor you with this Quilt of Valor,” said Robbins to the gathered crowd.
Edward Norman served in the Marine Corp from 1957 to 1987. He worked his way up to be a commissioned officer, Major, LDO (Limited Duty Officer) and earned the title of “Mustang.” He had several specialties, including field music bugler, recruit training drill instructor, drum major of a ceremonial Marine drum-and-bugle corps, computer programming chief, system software engineer, Marine Corps sciences school instructor and director.
Norman’s duty stations included Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Camp Pendleton, Naval Station Treasure Island, Quantico, Camp Lejeune, Japan and Okinawa.
He expressed his gratitude before rejoining his loved ones in the audience.
Richard Woolf served as lieutenant commander in the Navy from 1967 to 1970. He was the supply officer aboard the USS Platte (AO-24) during two deployments off the coast of Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. The “Fleet’s First Lady” was the oldest Navy ship in continuous commissioned service having been commissioned in 1939 and serving through 1970. The ship served with distinction during WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
During his two Vietnam deployments, Woolf provided fuel, ammunition, food supplies and personnel to ships of the US Seventh Fleet engaged in combat operations off the coast of Vietnam. His other duty stations included Naval Station Long Beach and the Korean Straights after seizure of the USS Pueblo by North Korea in 1968.
Woolf and the other two veterans present who served in Vietnam were also given a Vietnam Veteran lapel pin at the presentation.
“Thanks to Sheila and all the ladies of the Quilt of Valor,” said Woolf. “I know there’s a lot of work that has to be done for something like this.”
Dennis Lee served in the Army from 1968 to 1969 as a sergeant in the 25th infantry, Charlie company. He was stationed in CuChi, Vietnam, which was part of the Iron Triangle. He was awarded a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.
“I’m grateful, and I appreciate it. Thank you,” said Lee.
Robert Haskell served in the Navy from 1956 to 1978 and became a senior chief petty officer. He joined the service three weeks after his seventeenth birthday, working in the signal intelligence field throughout his career. He attended Cryptologic Technician School at Imperial Beach, California. Also known as “spooks,” cryptologic technicians collect, analyze and apply information for the Navy and serve in the information warfare community.
Haskell’s duty stations included Hawaii, Philippines, Japan, Alaska, Scottland and Okinawa. He was in Phu Bai, Vietnam, for a year. He served on submarines such as USS Springfield, USS Little Rock, USS Triton, USS Hardhead and USS Pollack.
“Thank you so much for this presentation. You girls are great,” said Haskell.
Amongst those gathered in the crowd supporting Haskell and the other veterans was retired Lieutenant Colonel Josephine Weber, a former member of the Army who has undertaken the coordination of this year’s 26th annual military ball in place of Haskell. She and her husband, retired Command Sergeant Major Daniel Semenza, along with several others, have organized the ball for Nov. 11 at the Savannah Center as another way to honor attendees and uphold traditional military customs.
“We toast to those in different services,” said Weber. “It’s an evening of camaraderie for all.”
Cindy Brown, the community relations representative for Congressman Webster’s Office, was also in attendance at the ceremony. She and the District 11 office have listed supporting veterans as one of their priorities, evident by her appearance at the last ceremony in April, as well.
“We do what we can to give them what they deserve,” said Brown.
If you would like to nominate a fellow veteran for a quilt of valor, go to www.qovf.org. Enter “Sheila Robbins, The Villages” as the QOVF leader, and the quilt request will go to Robbins for a presentation. Veterans from other states can be nominated, as well. Send a copy of the confirmation to Robbins2106@cfl.rr.com, and she will coordinate the request.