In honor of service: Quilts of Valor presented to veterans

Members of the Central Arkansas and Second Tour chapters of Quilts of Valor: Jane Waterson (from left), Kathy Ewell, Iva J. Gault, Charlie Nash, Donna Bryant, Ginny Musgrove, Sandy McKim, Judy Rains and Wanda Strever. Jane, Kathy and Charlie are members of the Central Arkansas chapter in Pulaski County. Members of the Second Tour chapter in Faulkner County are Iva, Donna, Ginny, Sandy, Judy and Wanda.

Story and photos
by Sonja J. Keith

Ten local veterans were recently presented with a beautiful quilt crafted to honor their military service.

Members of two chapters of the Quilts of Valor organization presented the quilts during a ceremony at the Ola and John Hawks Senior Wellness and Activity Center in Conway.

Ginny Musgrove led the program and shared that the Quilts of Valor Foundation is a national organization founded in 2003 by “Blue Star” mother Catherine Roberts. “With a son deployed in Iraq, a ‘gunner’ sitting atop a Humvee, she often felt only 10 seconds away from panic. She had this vision of her post-deployed warrior struggling with his war demons in the early hours of morning. She then saw him wrapped in a quilt, which not only provided warmth and comfort, but memories of home and those that loved him.”

According to Ginny, the mission of the volunteers is to “cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.”

Since its inception, more than 216,500 quilts have been presented to veterans.

“Each Quilt of Valor is formed by loving hands joining bits of fabric together one piece at a time,” Ginny said. “A Quilt of Valor may be fashioned by only one or two individuals or through the combined efforts of many women and men of all skill levels. Many others who do not sew, but provide venues, fundraising, supplies and support, play an equal part in creating the Quilts of Valor.”

Ginny said the quilt represents a three-part message. “First, we honor you for your service. We honor you for leaving all you held dear and to stand in harm’s way in a time of crisis, protecting us from the effects of war,” she said. “Next, our quilters know that ‘freedom is not free.’ The cost of our freedom is the dedication of lives of men and women like you. Quilts of Valor are tokens of appreciation that unequivocally say ‘thank you’ for your service, sacrifice and valor. It is a tangible reminder that there are thousands of people across the land that are forever in your debt.

“Finally, this quilt is meant to offer you comfort and to remind you that although family and friends cannot always be there, you are forever in all of our thoughts and hearts.”

As each veteran’s name was called, a brief summary of their service was read as committee members draped the quilt over the recipient. Each quilt is personalized and reflects patriotic colors.

The recipients:

Harrol Barnes – U.S. Army from 1966 to 1969; served 12 months in Vietnam.

Scott Briggs – U.S. Army from 2002 to 2012; served during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Garry Jeffries – U.S. Army from 1965 to 1969; served in Vietnam.

Larry Lunsford – U.S. Marines from 1968 to 1970; served nine months in Vietnam.

James Moyers – U.S. Air Force from 1953 to 1973; served during the Korean War with two tours in Vietnam. The quilt was accepted by his wife, Sarah.

Roger Spruiell – U.S. Army from 1967 to 1969; served 14 months in Vietnam. (Roger was unable to attend.)

Arvid Straschinske – U.S. Army from 1963 to 1966; he volunteered to go to Vietnam in 1966. He accepted his quilt in memory of a fallen buddy, John Vandrissche, killed in 1966.

Butch Walker – U.S. Army from 1965 to 1967; deployed to Vietnam.

Deana Weindorf – U.S. Air Force from 1968 to 1972; in Vietnam 1970-71.

Charles Wilson – U.S. Navy from 1956 to 1960; served during the wrapup of the Korean War.

After the presentation, those present had an opportunity to shake hands or hug each veteran draped in their quilt.

For more information or to make a Quilts of Valor nomination, visit The 16 Quilts of Valor chapters in Arkansas are listed with contact information on the website.

Sonja Keith