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An Inspiring Quilt of Valor Awards Ceremony

The Forest Acres Quilting Club was honored to award two Quilts of Valor at the Adams Veterans of Foreign Wars meeting at the Community Building on June 26th. The recipients of our quilts were Korean War veterans Merlyn Saathoff of Sterling and Gorden Mills of Adams. Approximately 16 VFW and VFW Auxiliary members were in attendance, as well as several family members of Merlyn and Gorden. The awards ceremony took place prior to the monthly meeting and was followed by a lunch and fellowship.

Merlyn was drafted and inducted into the United States Army in January of 1951. His first assignment was with the Signal Corps in the telephone platoon in Te Goo, Korea. His next assignment was 80 miles from Seoul where he was in charge of the switchboards. Merlyn was discharged in January of 1953. His honors include the Korean Service Medal, the Bronze Service Star, and the United Nations Service Medal.

Gorden entered the service in 1950 and boarded the Valley Forge aircraft carrier as an ordinance mechanic. His work included maintaining the guns and cannons on the planes, as well as loading ammunition onto the planes. His second assignment was aboard the Oriskaney aircraft carrier in charge of the ordinance department. In 1954 Gorden was sent to the Marshall Islands when the first hydrogen bomb was tested. He was discharged in 1954 after serving his country in both the Army and the Navy. His honors include four Battle Stars, Good Conduct Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the China Service Medal, and the Japanese Occupational Medal.

The quilts awarded to these veterans were constructed by Forest Acres Quilting Club members Rita Fix, Lorna McMurray, Janie Oltman, and myself with help from Janie's granddaughter, Maryn Oltman, and great-granddaughters, Addison and Makenna Thiemann. These girls helped with ironing the fabric, counting block pieces as they were cut, and laying out the blocks to be constructed. We are always thrilled to have their help and hope that we are planting the seed for them to be future quilters. Hopefully, they too will become members of the Quilt of Valor Foundation and construct quilts to be awarded to veterans who have been touched by war.

The patterns for both of these quilts were found in the Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting magazine. Merlyn's quilt is called "In Honor Of......." and the pattern is in the January/February 2013 issue of the magazine. I stitched a custom design on this quilt by using a stipple pattern in the star background with off-white thread, a three-line outline of the triangle blocks in the border with taupe thread, and a fern design in the flag blocks with red thread. Gorden's Quilt is called "My Country" and the pattern is in the May/June 2014 of the magazine. I stitched an all-over star pattern on this quilt with an off-white thread.

These quilts mark the fifth and sixth that our club has awarded to veterans since we began our work a year ago. It is a thrill for us to be able to award a quilt that we have spent a couple of months constructing. We have a hard time at this point deciding which quilt has been our favorite as they all have special meaning to us. As Lorna mentioned in the presentation, these quilts "will be a tangible reminder that there are thousands of men and women across this land who are forever in your debt. On behalf of the Quilt of Valor Foundation it is our pleasure to honor each of you with a Quilt of Valor award. Welcome home!"

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