Four Putnam veterans were recently honored by the Order of the Eastern Star, Hurricane Chapter 116. Dee Kemper, who is affiliated with the Order, is in a quilting ministry at her church, Maranatha Fellowship. The church is also one of five churches in West Virginia which make quilts for Quilts of Valor. Kemper requested that quilts be presented to four members of the Eastern Star who are veterans. Quilts of Valor state coordinator Maribeth Shreve presented the four men with homemade quilts, each sewn with a patriotic theme. These were some of the quilts that were on display on the steps of the State Capital in Charleston earlier this year.
The four veterans who were honored were Jon Comer, Curtis Grant, Al Howard, and Grover Huff. All are from Hurricane, with the exception of Huff, who resides in Scott Depot.
Jon Comer served with the Marines in Cuba in 1971-2, guarding Guantanamo Base. While he signed up to fight in Vietnam, he got sent to Cuba instead, where he repaired radios, phones, mine detectors, and cryptographers. Although he received the National Defense Ribbon and Good Conduct medal, he says that he always felt left out because the men who went to Vietnam came back with ribbons and medals. “This is the nicest thing anyone has ever done,” he said in response to being given a Quilt of Valor.
“I was very humbled and honored to receive the quilt,” said Al Howard. He was in the Air Force from 1964-68, where he served as a jet engine mechanic, working on B52’s and KC135’s.
“I appreciate the quilt so much,” said Grover Huff, who served in the US Army. “Indeed, it is an honor to be considered for this. I served my country because I was called, but I would do it again. I really appreciate what the Eastern Star and Quilts of Valor did – it touched my heart and I couldn’t talk.”
“It’s a wonderful thing that they recognized us. It was a big surprise,” said Curtis Grant, who also served in the US Army. “Many Vietnam veterans were not recognized when they got home. We felt out of place when we got home, and missed the soldiers we served with. Some of those guys we never saw again.”
During the presentation, the veterans were wrapped in the quilts, a Quilts of Valor tradition which symbolizes an embrace of love and gratitude. The quilts are meant to be a healing and comforting gesture, a way of@ showing appreciation and support to veterans. Quilters from all over the nation spend hours designing and sewing these heartfelt blankets. Over 266,000 quilts have been presented to veterans since the foundation of Quilts of Valor in 2003. Anyone can request a quilt to honor a veteran.