Quilts of Valor presented to area vets

Posted 7/31/19

The greetings he received at the American Legion hall in Port Townsend were warmer than the reception he recalls receiving after he got back from Vietnam.

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Quilts of Valor presented to area vets

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The greetings he received at the American Legion hall in Port Townsend were warmer than the reception he recalls receiving after he got back from Vietnam.

Bernard Snyder of Brinnon served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, of which he spent 15 months in Vietnam.

Snyder and his wife were invited, by the Jefferson County chapter of the national Quilts of Valor nonprofit organization, to the Marvin G. Shields American Legion Post 26 building July 27, for that Saturday’s “Sew Day,” during which Snyder and another veteran received their own handmade quilts.

“It’s a lot better than what I got coming home from Vietnam,” Snyder said. “When you get rocks and tomatoes thrown at you, it’s not exactly a ‘welcome home’ message.”

Snyder served in the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine, and was a former post commander of the Brinnon Veterans of Foreign Wars.

While many vets cite the camaraderie as one of the highlights of their time in service, Snyder admitted that he saw such a rotation of personnel that there wasn’t nearly enough time to bond with his fellow Marines.

“After a while, you remember the good times and block out the bad,” Snyder said.

The “Sew Day” was joined later in the day by Navy veteran Marilyn Joanne Wells, who was finally receiving a quilt on behalf of herself.

During last year’s Veterans Day ceremony at the Port Townsend American Legion, Wells had accepted a quilt on behalf of two other veterans — her fiancé, who was killed before they could get married, and his father, who died in World War II.

“His name was Fredrick Pierce Webb, and he was his father’s only son, so he didn’t have to go,” Wells said. “He was in college, and very intelligent. He joined the service, unbeknownst to me, and I found out he was dead from a letter.”

When that quilt was draped over her shoulders last fall, Wells said it felt like “his arms were around me.”

Nancy McDaniel, who served in the Air Force with her husband before they both retired, had also received a quilt during that ceremony, and was one of nearly a dozen Jefferson County Quilts of Valor members busily sewing quilts for other vets at the Legion hall July 27.

“I see it as a way of giving back,” McDaniel said. “We don’t always recognize our veterans, and the older generations are disappearing fast.”

Fellow quilter Christina Chadwick’s son is an Army Ranger, and she never wants to see another generation of veterans treated the way she saw the Vietnam vets being treated.

“One of our next-door neighbors served in Vietnam, and he was so traumatized he never left the house,” Chadwick said.

Sheila Decker, another quilter, is married to a Navy vet, and it’s only recently, as he’s approached his 70th birthday, that he’s started wearing hats that indicate his veteran status.

“Any little way we can thank these people for their sacrifices is valuable,” Decker said.

Kathey Bates, team leader of the annual winter and summer “Sew Days,” noted that the national Quilts of Valor nonprofit organization has sewn and presented more than 200,000 quilts to veterans, with at least 400 coming from the Jefferson County chapter since 2015.

“Just think of each quilt as a permanent hug from us,” Bates said.

Each quilt is presented to an American military veteran in the area, typically during the annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies at the Marvin G. Shields American Legion Post 26 building in Port Townsend

Bates emphasized that, while the quilts are intended for veterans, no proof of service is necessary to be a recipient.

“Just fill out an application, and we’re good to go,” Bates said.

Those interested can fill out an application at Quilts of Valor’s national site, www.qovf.org, and the request will be forwarded to the local chapter.

For further details, email Bates at 1katheybates@gmail.com.

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