Volunteers at Pine Island Cove last Monday honored six World War II veterans with "Quilts of Valor." The honorees included Homer Dangler, Lloyd Dysart, Lloyd Evans, Frank Furia, William "Mack" Luten and Lionel "Hap" Metivier.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation awards quilts "to those who have been touched by war."
"The Quilts of Valor Foundation is a national organization that was founded in 2003 by a Blue Star mom Catherine Roberts," National Quilts of Florida representative Maggie Nosbusch said. "The idea for the 'Quilts of Valor' came out of a dream Catherine Roberts' had. Catherine's son Nat was deployed in Iraq and according to Catherine, in her dream she saw a young man sitting on the side of his bed in the middle of the night, hunched over. The permeating feeling of the dream was one of utter despair. Roberts could see his war demons clustered around, dragging him down into an emotional gutter. Then, as if viewing a movie, she saw him in the next scene wrapped in a quilt. His whole demeanor changed from one of despair to one of hope and wellbeing. The quilt had made this dramatic change. The message of her dream was: Quilts = Healing."
Frank Furia receives his quilt.
The first QOV was awarded in November 2003 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to a young soldier from Minnesota who had lost his leg in Iraq and as of Tuesday morning, March 28, Quilts of Valor had made and presented 158,397 quilts.
Each quilt consists of three layers and each layer has meaning. The top layer, with its many colors, shapes and fabrics, represents the communities and the many individuals. The second layer, the batting, is the center of the quilt and represents the hope that the quilt will bring warmth, comfort, peace and healing to the individual who receives it. The third layer is the backing and is the strength that supports the other layers. It represents the strength of the recipient, the support of his family, our communities and our nation. Each stitch that holds the layers together represents love, gratitude and sometimes the tears of the maker.
"Thousands of quilters work every day to create quilts for warriors from all conflicts including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Beirut and Afghanistan," Nosbusch said. "Our founder, Catherine Roberts, describes these quilts as a 'Civilian Purple Heart Award.' It says 'thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor' in serving our nation."
During the March 27 program, the first quilt was presented to U.S. Navy veteran, 3rd Class Petty Officer Homer Dangler. Dangler served in the U.S. Navy as a cook and baker and was based for much of World War II at a US Naval base in Natal, Brazil. His unit's job was to act as a service and refueling base for U.S. B-17 and B-24 bombers that were crossing the Atlantic to North Africa.
The second quilt was presented to U.S. Army Air Corps Sgt. Lloyd Dysart. He was stationed in the Pacific islands to facilitate communications among various bases throughout the area and among aircraft transitioning the vast areas of the Pacific Ocean.
The third quilt was presented to U.S. Navy Seaman 1st Class Lloyd Evans. He was stationed on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay and was involved with security for U.S. military personnel awaiting court marshals, and for other U.S. prisoners.
The fourth quilt was presented to U.S. Navy and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Frank Furia. He was just 17 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Too young to join the service, Furia waited until he was 18 years old before joining the Navy. He was assigned to join the crew of the USS Monterey (CVL-26) in Camden, New Jersey.
The Monterey departed Philadelphia for the Caribbean Sea "where we went looking for German submarines," Furia said. "They put depth charges on the torpedo bombers and we flushed out three submarines."
In December 1944 the Monterey, along with Admiral William Halsey's 3rd Fleet, sailed into Typhoon Cobra. Halsey's weather experts misread the track of the impending storm and the Task Force sailed right into 100 knot (120 mph) winds and extremely high seas causing the ships to roll more than 70 degrees. Furia was on the mast when the storm struck.
The storm, heavy winds and heavy seas, continued for two days.
"We were lucky to get through that alive," Furia said. "We lost almost 800 men in that typhoon and the storm decimated the fleet."
Furia served in the Navy until 1959. After leaving the Navy, he served 8 1/2 years in the National Guard as part of the Cornell New York Cavalry.
The fifth quilt was presented to U.S. Navy Printer 1st Class William 'Mack' Luten.
He served in the Navy Reserves/Merchant Marine as a gunner and a painter on Liberty ships during World War II.
"I remember when I heard about Pearl Harbor," Luten said. "We all joined after Pearl Harbor was attacked - you couldn't wait to get in and fight for our country. I joined the Navy on Dec. 27, 1942, and was sworn in Jan 2, 1943.
"I spent my first year in the North Atlantic," he said. "We carried supplies, soldiers and even WACS (Women's Army Corp) to England. Coming back we transported German POWs. We faced German fighter planes and submarines in those crossings. I spent my last year in the Mediterranean."
The sixth quilt was presented to U.S. Army Cpl. Lionel "Hap" Metivier. After completing basic training at Camp Blanding near Jacksonville, Florida, Metivier was trained and outfitted for battle against the Japanese in the South Pacific. A change of orders sent him to Europe where he joined the troops in the Battle of the Bulge - the bloodiest battle in Europe during World War II.
"I want to thank, and we all want to thank, these men for the jobs they did and for the bravery they showed," Nosbusch said. "Please let's give them a round of applause."
Lloyd Buck, Richard Thomas and Ron Zaremba served as "Honor Guard" throughout the ceremony. In the U.S., military honor guards serve as ambassadors to the public, presenting a positive image of their service.