When U.S. veterans are awarded handmade, heirloom Quilts of Valor by the South Bay Blue Star Moms Sewing Stars, it is, like a medal of honor, tangible acknowledgement that their service to the country is valued.
“A quilt of valor is the civilian equivalent of the Purple Heart Award,” said emcee Cathy Crowder at the Quilts of Valor Award Ceremony on May 19 at Moss Adams, LLP, in Campbell, where one of the Sewing Stars works.
The Sewing Stars, a sewing group within the South Bay Blue Star Moms (SBBSM), awarded Quilts of Valor to five veterans and a Quilt of Honor to the spouse of a deceased veteran. They called the veterans forward one by one, wrapping them in the quilts and hugging them.
“On behalf of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, the South Bay Blue Star Moms Sewing Stars and a grateful nation, with our deepest appreciation, we thank you for your service to our country with this Quilt of Valor Award,” Crowder told the veterans. “Thank you, and, most importantly, welcome home.”
For some veterans, the public thanks for their military service has been a long time coming.
“A lot of love goes into this quilt, I can tell,” said Vietnam War veteran Tom Trudell, San Jose, who served in the Navy for 20 years. “It’s great being recognized like this by the Moms. It’s the first time I’ve been publicly recognized. I’m very proud of my service. I saw a lot of the world.”
Other quilt recipients: Myrna Bower, San Jose, accepting the award for her late husband, Walt Bower, a Navy veteran of the Korean War; Air Force Captain Jamie Foelker, Milpitas, who served from 1985 – 1998; Marine Steve Gilmore, San Jose, who served from 1975 – 1982 during the Iran hostage crisis; Navy veteran Don Moore, San Jose, who served from 1979 – 1984 on the USS Midway during the Iran hostage crisis; and Army veteran Klaus Petry, San Jose, who served in Germany and the U.S. during the Vietnam era.
The Sewing Stars have a stockpile of 45 additional quilts of valor, valued at $300 to $500 each. Ten to 15 are earmarked to be presented at a ceremony, yet to be scheduled, at the Santa Clara Elks Lodge.
They have additional requests for quilts to award to 60 homeless veterans in Silicon Valley who are now in transitional housing. A 2018 grant for $4,750 from the Mission City Community Fund will help with costs.
“The grant will go a long way,” said Sewing Star Ida Henscheid, who relaxes after her job in accounting by quilting.
“It’s a real relief just to go home and quilt,” said Henscheid, not at all daunted by the sewing task ahead.
SBBSM (www.southbaybluestarmoms.org) is a Silicon Valley support group for active members of the U.S. military and their families. They welcome home returning veterans and organize and ship care packages to the troops twice a year.
SBBSM meet the third Tuesday of the month, 7 – 9 p.m., at American Legion Post 564, 2121 Walsh Ave., Santa Clara. For up-to-date posts and the monthly newsletter, visit SBBSM on Facebook.