One red, white and blue block at a time, 20 Oxbow Quilt Group (OQG) members honor Cass County veterans by giving them Quilts of Valor.
During the Elmwood-Murdock High School Veterans program Nov. 10, the quilters presented four Quilts of Valor. The quilts were among 30 they made in the past three years to present to veterans, according to Bonnie Brewer, one of the Oxbow Quilters.
Brewer said the quilters not only live in Elmwood-Murdock area, but also Lincoln, Greenwood, Plattsmouth, Ashland, Shubert, Louisville and Springfield. Members are Linda Barnes, Lincoln; Brewer, Elmwood; Bonnie Bruttig, Murdock; Peggy Clements, Elmwood; Marthena DeGarmo, Elmwood; Debbie Gilbert, Murdock; Maureen Gulizia, Louisville; Judy Hendrix, Greenwood; Pat Klaumann, Murdock; Diane Mayfield, Louisville; Marcia Mullinex, Lincoln; Lois Oliver, Plattsmouth; Lori Pankonin, Louisville; Evelyn Schafer, Murdock; Kennetha Scheer, Ashland; Judy Schlosser, Shubert; Karyl Smith, Ashland; Sara Velder, Elmwood; and Sarah Vodicka, Springfield.
“You may remember that we were here last year and awarded 11 quilts to Vietnam veterans,” Brewer said.
OQG members began making Quilts of Valor for veterans touched by war about three years ago. The movement was originally started by Catherine Roberts, a Blue Star mom, of Seaford, Del., in 2003 but has now spread across the United States and even has an international presence through the National Quilts of Valor Foundation.
Roberts had “a dream to see all returning warriors welcomed home with the love and gratitude they deserved. She was a quilter and thus was born the Quilts of Valor Foundation,” Brewer explained.
“Our first order of business was to cover our World War II veterans, then Korean, Vietnam, and now our younger Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans,” Brewer said. “When the quilts we have awarded along with those that will be awarded today and in the next few days, our total will be 30 Quilts of Valor.”
Nine quilts were made for this year’s presentation, but only four veterans could attend the EM High School program. One of the quilts awarded Friday was made by a California resident and friend of a local OQG.
“This is her first ever quilt and she donated it to us for our veterans,” Brewer said. “And I might add, that each of these quilts were made with love, prayers and healing thoughts for those veterans receiving them.”
The four attending the program were Bob Chapman, Nick Markum, Paul Murdoch and Bob Vodicka. Other veterans who will be receiving a quilt in the next few days are Tom Friesell, Nathan Hromanik, Jeremy Menagh, Dennis Platt and Aaron Stewart.
Chapman was drafted into the U.S. Army September 1967. He completed basic training at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma, Wash. Next he completed Advanced Individual Training at Fort Polk, La., before starting a tour of duty in South Vietnam March 6, 1968.
With just six months of training, he was assigned to the 2nd Platoon Company A 2-14 Infantry, 25th Infantry Division based in Chu Chi, Vietnam.
He was promoted to Sergeant E-5 while in Vietnam and was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal with V Device and Bronze Star for meritorious service. He returned to the United States March 8, 1969, and finished his active duty as a Primary Instructor in classroom and on the firing range for the M-60 machine gun at Fort Polk. He was honorably discharged from active duty in September 1969.
Markum served in the U.S. Army from 2004-2012. He was stationed at Logistical Support Area (LSA) Anaconda at Balad Air Base near Balad in the Sunni Triangle 40 miles (64 km) north of Baghdad, Iraq. “Balad Air Base is unique in that it was called Balad Air Base by the Air Force and Logistical Support Area Anaconda by the Army before being renamed to Joint Base Balad in 2008. It was then returned to the Iraqi Air Force in 2011 and is called Balad Air Base,” Brewer said.
Murdoch and his wife Ashley are not new to Murdock but they recently moved to Elmwood. Murdoch served in the Nebraska National Guard from 1998-2006. In 2004 he was deployed to Iraq.
“You might be saying to yourself, ‘Who is this Bob guy?’” Brewer said. “He is actually the husband of Sarah, one of our quilters, Sarah. Since she worked so hard making quilts for our veterans we felt it only right that her husband also receive his Quilt of Valor. She actually made his quilt so that makes it extra special for them.”
From June 1965 to Aug. 1965, Vodicka served as a 2nd Lt., Engineer Officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Belvoir, Va.
From August 1965 to May 1966, he was on active duty in the Corps of Engineers as a 2nd Lt., Construction Officer, Engineer Group headquartered at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. The next year he served in Vietnam as a 1st Lt., Operations Officer, with the 497th Engineers, Port Construction.
In 1967, he received the Bronze Star – Vietnam Service Medal. From June 1967 to June 1970, he served in the active and inactive reserves in Omaha.
In addition to a quilt, each veteran received a challenge coin from American Legion Post 247 and a certificate with an inscription. Brewer read the inscription, which states, “In recognition of your service and sacrifice for our nation, it is a privilege to serve honor and comfort upon you through the award of this Quilt of Valor. Though we will never know the depth of your sacrifice to protect and defend the United States of America, as a gesture of gratitude from a grateful nation and our community, we award you this Quilt of Valor. Thank you all for serving our great nation and welcome home.”