Six World War II veterans were honored with Quilts of Valor and lapel pins this past week at Mission BBQ in Lady Lake.
Quilts of Valor are made to thank veterans for their service and act as personalized reminders of their sacrifice to the nation. Led by Sheila Robbins, the Khaki Quilters, which is a chapter of the Quilting Guild of The Villages, make the quilts by hand to be given to veterans in the company of friends and family. A couple of the quilts for this presentation were provided by the Sewing Studio Patriotic Group.
“Our quilts are awarded, not just handed out like a magazine or a video,” said Robbins during the presentation. “A Quilt of Valor unequivocally says thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor in serving our nation.”
Hal Urban was the first to be wrapped in a quilt in front of a restaurant full of supporters. He served as a sergeant in the Army from 1942-1946.
“It’s an honor,” said Urban.
Alfred Colbath served as an equipment operator chief in the Navy Seabees, or Construction Battalion (CB), from 1942-1946. Robbins thanked him for his service before he rejoined the other veterans.
Dale Noble served as a lieutenant colonel in the Army from 1942-1970, seeing both WWII and the Korean War. He recounted his time in the military, stating he enlisted at 17 years old after being worried he would not get out of school in time to join the war effort. He remembered that he and his wife, who passed about three years ago, loved traveling and meeting wonderful people.
“I really appreciate what you all are doing here,” said Noble. “This is great.”
Charles Ruel served as a gunner’s mate first class petty officer in the Navy from 1944-1946. He joined the military out of high school but recalled his mother asking him to never get a tattoo, which he did not.
Ruel also stated that every veteran in the room planned to give their life and everything they owned to the United States of America, which he called the greatest country in the world.
Floyd Austin served as a signal man first class petty officer in the Navy from 1944-1946. After WWII, he was shipped to China for seven months.
“It was a good experience,” said Austin of his time in the service.
Richard Sager served as a corporal in the U.S. Army Air Corps, the predecessor to the Air Force, from 1944-1946. He tipped his hat to the other veterans in the room before taking his seat beside them.
Robert Beale, who was meant to be at the presentation but did not make it for reasons unknown, served as a private first class in the Marine Corps from 1943-1946.
After Robbins thanked the vets, guests, quilters and Mission BBQ, representatives from the Military Order of the Purple Hearts began handing out Honorable Service Lapel Buttons. Also known as the “Ruptured Duck” pin, these were issued to soldiers to be worn on the left lapel of civilian clothing after being discharged.
Jim Dow, an Air Force veteran of the Village of Charlotte, and Mike Parker, a former Department of Defense special agent, pinned the aforementioned veterans and several others in the crowd. Among them was Irving Locker, a 99-year-old WWII veteran who fought the Nazis in Normandy at the age of 19.
To conclude the event, Mission BBQ offered all the veterans and their families a free lunch.
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.