by Becky GINOS
BOUNTIFUL—Not everyone who went to war received parades and a warm welcome home, but quilters from across the nation are using their talents to provide a unique way of saying thank you to those veterans who served to keep this country free.
“The Quilts of Valor Foundation started in 2003 with Catherine Roberts to pay it forward while she was praying for her son while he was in harm’s way,” said Diane Jaeger, the Utah representative for the group who awarded four servicemen last week with the special quilts. “I wanted to honor each of you gentlemen. Without you I wouldn’t have had mentors to be in the service.”
After returning from Iraq with a disability that ended her military career, Jaeger got involved with the longarm quilting program where a machine is used to create intricate designs. “I figured I could keep quilting and I’ve made over 1,000 quilts in 11 years.”
Bountiful resident Claude Newby who served as a Chaplin assigned to the 218th 1st Cav Division at An Khe was one of the four honored. “Most of us were driven by a sense of duty, a value I inherited and was honored to be there,” he said.
David Lillywhite was an infantryman assigned to the same unit as Newby. He now lives in Smithfield with his wife.
Gary Stewart is from Fruit Heights and served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968 with the 509th Signal Battalion attached to the 1st Cav Division at An Khe.
Scott Theurer served with the 509th Signal Battalion attached to the 1st Cav Division as well. “I came from a patriotic family and felt it was my duty to serve,” said Theurer.
“All four men attribute their return home to divine intervention and guardian angels,” said Centerville resident Ann Collet, who became involved with the foundation through her Home Machine Quilting Show. “Unfortunately, there was an obvious lack of ‘welcome’ upon arriving back in the United States due to the controversial opinions about the war. The Quilts of Valor awarded to these men have come after 51 thankless years to acknowledge the sacrifices they made during the Vietnam War. Through their service and the hundreds like them, we enjoy freedom. Thank you for your brave service.”