Two Quilts of Valor presented
By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
The senior luncheon held at the San Moritz Lodge in Crestline on National Vietnam War Veterans Day – March 29 – was used as an opportunity to honor those who served during a very unpopular military conflict in America’s history.
During this luncheon, those veterans were celebrated by the room, which was full of Crestline seniors who lived through those war years. March 29 was designated as Vietnam Veterans War Day by the Department of Defense in 2008 as that was the last day that combat troops departed Vietnam. The day is intended to honor these veterans who served between Nov. 11, 1955, and May 15, 1975.
During the luncheon, two veterans who did serve in the conflict were each presented and wrapped in a Quilt of Valor made especially for them by Gina Siembieda and Teri Ostlie. Approximately 20 other veterans were also introduced by Maureen Mann and recognized for their service during the war. Prior to the luncheon, members of VFW Post 9624 Auxiliary talked to each of the veterans or their spouses for short military bios on each one. They were presented with caps and pins, honoring their service.
Mann said it is great to say, “Thank you for your service” but we need to learn from them and connect with them as many have felt disconnected from society. She shared the things each said they believed they learned from their years in all branches of the service that assisted them in their subsequent lives, such as motivation, discipline, respect, ability to adapt, dedication to achieving a goal, learning to really listen to others and a desire to help others.
Surviving spouse pins were also presented, with one going to Ginger Gabriel, who presented the two Quilts of Valor that afternoon.
James Beckmann, 85, from Lake Arrowhead was the first veteran wrapped in a Quilt of Valor during the luncheon. In 1959, he broke his hip while on duty in an undercover operation and has suffered pain ever since; he also was affected by Agent Orange while in the war zone. He said it was nice to be back on the mountain and with friends and was honored to receive the quilt and be recognized for his service.
The second man to be wrapped in a Quilt of Valor that afternoon by Gabriel was Gordon Claudius, who served in the U.S. Navy. He was able to receive a master’s in physics, focused on semi-conductors, bringing that technology to the military. He worked after his military years for North American Aviation, which became North American Rockwell, and was able to change companies without changing offices, still bringing new technology to the armed services to upgrade and make being in the military safer for each service member.
Gabriel invited anyone interested in helping create Quilts of Valor to join her and others at Leisure Shores on third Mondays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.