“I’m overwhelmingly shocked that someone still cares,” says Quilt of Valor awardee James Ray Davis, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion during the Vietnam War.
“We came home in small groups and were forgotten. Because of the backlash of the Vietnam War, no one wanted to say they’d been there. It took me quite some years to learn how to be a civilian again,” says Davis, now lovingly wrapped in “Freedom Reigns”—a red, white, and blue Quilt of Valor. He is happy to be hugged and, at long last, thanked for his service by a cluster of Blue Star Moms.
Davis, nominated for a quilt by his San Jose neighbor, Blue Star Mom Debbie Pevyhouse, was one of 28 recipients awarded a Quilt of Valor by the South Bay Blue Star Moms at a ceremony held January 24 at the American Legion – Mission City Post 564.
“A Quilt of Valor is never given, always awarded. It is never auctioned, raffled, or sold. We want you to keep it in your family as an heirloom for generations to come,” says Air Force Veteran Harvey Mayhill from South Carolina, special projects coordinator for the Quilts of Valor Foundation. “These are not show quilts to be put on a wall…take these quilts home and use them.”
The mission of the volunteer-run nonprofit QOV is “to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.” Since 2003, more than 113,000 quilts have been awarded nationwide.
Santa Clara resident and Gold Star Aunt Bev Hromec, whose nephew Army Captain Ian P. Weikel was killed by an IED in Iraq in 2006, was awarded a Quilt of Comfort titled “Some Gave All.”
“This is a masterpiece of love. Every stitch is from hearts of love. It’s an incredibly amazing way to honor what a wonder Ian was,” says Hromec. “I’m honored to continue his legacy.”
Each 100 percent cotton, approximately 60″ X 80″ quilt comes with an identifying label naming the recipient, the location and date it was awarded, the person who pieced it, the quilter, and their states. A handmade presentation pillowcase is included.
Santa Clara resident Jerilyn Lightfoot, QOV California State Coordinator for the Bay Area – Silicon Valley, organized the South Bay Blue Star Moms Sewing Stars in 2013. Making a quilt takes many hours of labor, so the Sewing Stars enlisted the help of Blue Star Dad “man-stitchers,” high school students, adult education classes, the South Valley Quilt Association, and the Granary Quilt Shop.
Each quilt costs about $250 to make, so the Sewing Stars are grateful for monetary contributions, including grants from the Mission City Community Fund.
U.S. Army veteran Paul Blefari, 89, was the only WWII veteran awarded a Quilt of Valor. He served in General Patton’s 3rd Army and was wounded in December 1944 in the Battle of the Bulge on the Western European Front.
“I survived because my blood froze. It was 14 or 16 degrees below zero,” recalls Blefari, a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient. “It’s wonderful that they recognized my service today.”
“Vietnam vets never had a real welcome home. To have people acknowledge you as service members means so very much and is part of the healing,” says Quilt of Valor awardee Tex Tyner, a U.S. Marine.
“It’s forever and ever healing,” says the Santa Clara resident.
For a form to nominate a veteran for a quilt, visit www.QOVF.org. Contact Lightfoot at email@example.com or Sewing Stars group leader Ida Henscheid at firstname.lastname@example.org to make a contribution or offer your sewing skills. The Sewing Stars next meet February 7, QOV National Sew Day. For South Bay Blue Star Moms information, visit www.southbaybluestarmoms.org.