Sunday, April 5, 2015

We have just received a Very Special Request for Vietnam Vets...

I sobbed when I first read this letter.  It jolted me back to a time when as a young child, I watched my Uncle Danny, a Vietnam Vet, who got spat on while walking up to watch one of our 4th of July parades.  I don't think I ever saw him attend another one.

I cried again and again after re-reading it and tears are still streaming down my face as I write this.  I hope and pray no one minds if I post this heartfelt letter.  A letter from the wife of a Vietnam Veteran with a very simple request of help for other Vietnam Vets in our East Central Illinois area.  I will ask you the same question she asked of me after reading her letter.  If you can, if it's in your heart, "Can You Help?"

Please Note: Certain content, including names, have been edited by this blogger for privacy reasons. However, the proper name given of this Vietnam Infantry Division in this letter is correct and no edits apply and/or have been applied...Thank You.

April 3, 2015

To: Deb Lindley, Quilts of Valor Coordinator/State of Illinois – East Central

From:  Linda L., Wife of Vietnam Veteran (1969-70) Larry L.

This past September, my husband was presented with his Quilt of Valor in a very lovely and touching ceremony in Eastern Iowa.  His name was put forward for this quilt by a new friend we had made after moving to Iowa in 2002.  Having never heard of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, we weren't quite sure what this was all about and rather hesitant to participate.  Even though he was with 4 other vets he didn't know, it still was an emotional tribute and much appreciated.

In January of 2013, after 43 years of searching for his Vietnam unit buddy, Jeff S, (do you have any idea how many Jeff S.’s live in Ohio?), Larry received a call from Jeff S.  He was speechless.  It was as if 43 years melted away to just yesterday.  Jeff’s health is failing and his request to his daughter that Christmas was to help him find “his guys”.  

So started Jeff’s search for as many of the Alpha Co., 2nd of the 12th, 25th Infantry comrades who fought in those fields and jungles so many years ago and what seemed to be a lifetime ago for all of them.  

Since then, these comrades have gathered for 2 reunions and are in the midst of planning a 3rd reunion, September 20 - 25th in Branson, Missouri.  Many newly found comrades are reluctant to attend, fearful of stirring up old memories.  

However, those that do face their demons are so excited to renew those old friendships and bonds that were made and lost in the fields of Vietnam back in 1969.  One vet shared that he got more out of a 4 day reunion than 17 years of therapy.  Another said that until he talked with others who shared the same horrors, he thought perhaps his mind and memories were just exaggerating the events.  They have come together to share stories, hugs, tears, laughs, life’s challenges and, hopefully, inner healing that comes when connecting with the only other people who can really share their experiences.

There were no homecoming parades for these veterans, no small children waving American flags while standing along the streets, no welcome home gatherings in the local gymnasiums with family, friends and the community.  Like my husband, many were airlifted from the field to a medical facility, sent to a hospital for several months and then sent home alone to fend for themselves.  There were no goodbyes, no “thanks for having my back”, no exchange of contact information.  They were in the field one day and gone the next.

Alpha Co. Reunion 2014
Columbus, Ohio

After Larry received his quilt, I suggested that it would be so meaningful to receive a quilt among comrades and wouldn't it be great if we could make this happen for the guys attending the reunion this year.  This could be one of those healing events for these veterans who have had so much ugliness to carry within their hearts.

They come to the reunion with artificial limbs, wheelchairs, canes, physical and mental disabilities, seen and unseen.  One thing they all share is their love of country and willingness to have fought for our freedom.

With your help, I’m asking to make this presentation a new healing experience for the comrades of Alpha Co, 2 of the 12th, 25th Infantry Division.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda L.

UPDATE 4/6/2015:
My immediate response to Linda was YES!  We at East Central Illinois QOV will be more than happy to provide a comforting and healing Quilt of Valor for one or more of our area Illinois Vietnam Veterans who will be attending this year's reunion in September.  

IF you also wish to assist in any way with this reunion for these Vietnam Veterans - whether to help provide a comforting and healing Quilt of Valor to Honor another of these very deserving Vietnam Vets for their sacrifice and service for our country, OR to donate monetarily to help us create a Quilt of Valor for one of these Vietnam Veterans, monetary/non-monetary donations will be accepted, and any/ALL proceeds garnered specifically for this event will be used accordingly.  We will continue to post updates on this blog as additional details and circumstances provide...Thank YOU!

UPDATE 9/7/2015:  BOTH Quilts of Valor ready to ship -

Both Quilts of Valor - labeled w/QOV Award documents and Presentation Cases

Additional details regarding the creation and completion of these two very special Quilts of Valor may be found by following these two blog links below:

East Central Illinois QOV feels trully privileged to have played a small part in helping to create these two very special Quilts of Valor...Thanks goes to EVERYONE who helped in any way to make it possible to honor and cover our Illinois Vietnam Veterans with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.

UPDATE 9/30/2015  -  Just received these pics from Missouri Quilts of Valor State Coordinator, Gloria H. from the Vietnam Reunion:

Those smiles say it ALL don't they?  Thanks goes out to EVERYONE who helped make this happen for these deserving Vietnam Veterans.  Thank YOU, Gentlemen, for your sacrifice and service for our country...Welcome Home!

Please contact me with any questions:

Deb Lindley/Founder/Group Leader
East Central IL QOV
217.264.2051 (Direct)

“Covering our Service Members and Veterans touched by war with Quilts of Valor®…”


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