SRCCF hosts Quilts of Valor ceremony

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Photo cut line: (From left) Veterans Nelson Nussbaum, Boyd Palmer, Ralph Maubach and Reed Wilson accepted Quilts of Valor, along with Deb Dahl, who received a Quilt of Valor in honor of the late Sen. Gary Dahl. (Derek Barichello)

The Illinois Valley Quilts of Valor honored veterans Reed Wilson, of McNabb; Ralph Maubach, of Ottawa; Nelson Nussbaum, of Ottawa; and Boyd Palmer, of Ottawa with handmade quilts during a ceremony following the Starved Rock Country Community Foundation November board of directors meeting. The Illinois Valley Quilts of Valor also gifted a quilt to Deb Dahl, wife of late veteran and Sen. Gary Dahl, of Granville, for his service and support of the organization. Chuck Beckett of Ottawa and Keith Cain of Princeton, both members of the inaugural SRCCF board of directors, were previously honored with Quilts of Valor at a ceremony held by the Flags of Freedom organization in Princeton.

Terry Johnson, of the Illinois Valley Quilts of Valor, said the national organization was founded in 2003 by Catherine Roberts, who had a dream where a soldier who was distressed was comforted by a quilt. From there, she set up efforts to enlist volunteers to create quilts. The effort grew nationally and to date more than 362,000 quilts have been given to veterans. Johnson said each quilt takes about 100 hours to make. She added that during the Vietnam era soldiers were not always welcomed home and after introducing each quilt recipient Wednesday and covering their shoulders in the quilt, she made it a point to conclude the presentation by saying “welcome home.”

“There have been great changes in society since then in the respect veterans receive,” Reed Wilson said after receiving his quilt. “For example, Putnam County students used to take the day off of school and now half of the day is spent with the veterans and honoring them. I think things have changed a lot.” Wilson served in the Army from 1970-1999 (including activated Army National Guard/reservists). He was ROTC from 1970-1974, U.S. Army Reserves from 1975-1981 and Illinois Army Reserves 1982-1999. His rank at discharge was O-3.

From 1966 to 1968, Nelson Nussbaum served in the Navy. He was stationed in DaNang, Vietnam with detachment north of PhiBi Dong Hue Hue. He operated heavy equipment overseas, including bulldozers, scraper pans and trucks. He received medals for expert rifleman, good conduct and Vietnam Tour of Duty. “I’m very appreciative,” Nussbaum said of the receiving the quilt. “It’s wonderful to be recognized.”

Ralph Maubach served in the Army from 1963-1967. He was stationed in Chulai Vietnam from 1963-1965 and Camp Schwab in Okinawa in 1965. His rank at discharge was E-5. “Thank you,” Maubach said succinctly to Johnson and Betty Baznik who handed out the quilts.

Boyd Palmer served in the Army from 1957-1959 (including Army National Guard/reservists). He was stationed in Ft. Monmouth in New York, White Sand Proving Ground in Texas and Ft. McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia. His rank at discharge was E-4. “It’s sort of overwhelming,” Palmer said after receiving his quilt. “It is nice for them to give this award to all of us. for what we were doing, which was protecting the United States.”

From 1958 to 1961, Gary Dahl served in the Army, with a discharge rank of SP5 E-5. He was stationed in Germany as a helicopter and field maintenance mechanic. He received the Good Conduct Medal and his commitment was extended because the Berlin Wall was under construction.

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