By Mindy Ragan Wood, Staff Writer – PIEDMONT – Three military veterans who served during three different wars were honored with a patriotic gift at the Piedmont Area Veterans Association Tuesday.
The PAVA was a packed house as Bill Whitten, Ken Dickerson and John Anderson received a Quilt of Valor as a token of appreciation for their service. Quilts of Valor is a national non-profit foundation that provides quilts to veterans. The Piedmont chapter formed earlier this year and bestowed the first of many quilts to the former servicemen.
“We have a group of women who came together with two things in mind, we love quilting and we love our veterans,” Piedmont chapter organizer Laura Silvester said.
As she thanked the servicemen for their sacrifice, she said the quilt and the making of the quilt is symbolic.
“As we’re sewing we talk about the person that’s going to receive this quilt…we sew these little pieces together and sometimes we think about how their lives have been torn apart through wars and conflict and how they’re sewn back together again like a quilt,” she said.
“We hope that the love, the care, and the gratitude that we’ve sewn into each quilt and the appreciation that flows from our hearts will be acceptable to you in honor of your sacrifice. On behalf of your local Quilt of Valor Foundation and from a grateful nation, we want to say with our deepest, deepest appreciation, thank you for your service to our country.”
Oklahoma National Guard Chief Master Sergeant and Command Chief for Oklahoma Dave Teague attended the ceremony and read for the audience the citations for each recipient.
Whitten entered the Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Oklahoma and graduated in 1955. He served in the United States Air Force for 21 years as a jet fighter pilot. He flew 12 missions in Vietnam. During his service Whitten received the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal and eight Air Medals.
Dickerson joined the U.S. Navy in January 1959. He served as an advisor to the South Korean Navy as a member of the U.S. Navy Advisory Group in Seoul, South Korea. He served during the Cuban Missile Crisis and retired from the Navy after 10 years.
Anderson entered the Navy in May 1945 after his father signed his permission to enlist. He was assigned to the USS Siboney and spent time on Guam and Saipan. Anderson was part of Operation MAGIC CARPET whose purpose was bringing home repatriated personnel from the Pacific Islands after World War II. He helped escort them to Pearl Harbor, San Diego, and San Francisco.
Several community leaders attended the ceremony. Canadian County Commissioner Marc Hader said it was an honor to thank the nation’s servants for their valor and service.
“In peace time and in conflict it’s amazing we have a volunteer Army who steps forward to protect values that we share not only here but abroad for other parts of the world,” he said.
Denise Crosswhite Hader said it was a joy to watch the ceremony.
“I just enjoyed watching them honor the veterans of the past. We appreciate their service whether it’s in the past, current, or future. I have a nephew that’s in the Navy ROTC gearing up, getting ready for whatever service we need.”
State Senator Stephanie Bice said this was not her first Quilt of Valor ceremony to witness and she was happy to see that the chapter had started in Piedmont.
“Knowing the significance of these quilts to the men that receive them, it was vital that I come to see this today. This is my community, I represent Piedmont and I felt like I needed to be here to support the recipients.”
Chief Master Sergeant Teague said the ceremony is important to veterans and their families.
“It’s always great to see veterans honored like this and it’s good for the families to see it as well because the families sacrifice so much, giving up their loved ones to serve,” he said.
Sylvester said 14 Piedmont quilters worked on the project, doing much of the crafting at the PAVA building in Piedmont. PAVA identified the three area vets who were honored at the ceremony.