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What a time we had. We started out with 7 of us heading to San Francisco with 30 quilts and a full list of instructions on what we were to do when we arrived at San Francisco Airport. We hadn’t gotten 25 minutes down the road when Flo says, “I don’t have my wallet,” which meant no ID which we had to have to get through Security. We called back to the Shop and Joyce take a picture of ID and send it to us.

As we drive into SF Airport, our instructions tell us to go to the parking garage on the 5th floor. So we are driving through the garage looking for the 5th floor, with no U-turns, as you will end up exiting. We finally found the 5th floor garage and it’s closed so we park on the 4th floor and take the elevator to the 5th, walk out the door and it was empty – no cars, no people – really spooky. That didn’t stop us – we walked across and found the people mover – only us country folk get instructions. We finally get to Alaskan Airlines to meet the USO for passes – well, no one knew anything. After 40 minutes of asking everyone, Bonnie called the USO and finally got ahold of someone. Then came ‘The Flo charade’. They said she couldn’t go in without an ID which started Debbie, Flo and I trying different avenues to get her in. We didn’t give up and they took her back to security and we all went through security. Boy, was that fun. I got frisked, Jeanette got frisked, and we all got frisked. We finally got through to the other side and decided to wait for Flo. We could see her being frisked and they asked her a ton of questions but finally said ok. We all clapped and Rita took a video. We all learned a lesson – don’t forget your ID and that we don’t leave any of our QOH family behind.

So as I tell this adventure, the first few hours were killers. We finally got to the gate area where the American Legion Members were gathering and many people had signs and flags – the honoring was starting to begin. We met our Honor Flight Point of Contact and he decided we would setup our Quilts and they would bring the Veterans to us. While we were waiting I found out the cofounder was a Marine Veteran so our last spare quilt was dedicated for him.

When the veterans started to be brought through the line, the Bagpiper led them up the aisle with family and friends clapping and yelling. The smiles from those veterans were as wide as could be. I already had told our crew we would read the name and they were to take the quilt to them. All of our group took turns presenting quilts and connecting with the veteran. There were so many hugs. When it was my turn, I got up to tell them all we were going to give them Quilts of Honor and when we called their name to raise their hand. Before we started I had the honor of bringing Miss Commons forward – she is 101 years old, and was an Army Nurse in WWII. This lady was amazing. She was the first to walk off the plane – she made me look old – and when we took her quilt out she loved it. When Rita would yell out a name those hands came up so fast and the smiles, some could hardly wait. We received tons of nice comments on how beautiful the quilts were and how organized we were. One lade even told us it wasn’t cheesy – that’s what she expected but it was nice. Others said, “This is a labor of love”. We even pulled off awarding to 4 of the Honor Flight Crew – all veterans.

After all of them received their quilts, the parade down Main Street started. All the people in the stores came out and the Bagpiper played all the way to the end. It was very special and I see more in Quilts of Honor’s future – we were a hit.

I want to thank Queen B’s Antioch QOH. There were 7 of them and they took a 1 ½ hour trip on Bart to be a part of it all. They jumped in and awarded quilts – they were a great help. To my crew – I couldn’t do it without you. Bonnie, you done good. Debbie saved Flo, she done good. Rita will now hear the ending to our night.

We are walking back to the car and we had to find the elevator. Well, Chago, Rita’s older grandson runs in the elevator and the doors start to close. We couldn’t stop them and they got jammed. He is stuck inside and we are all yelling. People are watching and three men who had been to see the Veterans said to let them pull it open. They were BIG BIG guys. They tried with no luck. Everyone is still yelling for Chago the push the open button. Finally he did and he ran out into Grandma Rita’s arms. Boy was that awful. We finally got to the 5th floor parking and walked out onto the deck. It is dark, dark and the wind is howling and we have to walk across the parking lot and not a soul around – boy did we move.  We finally found the car and pile in for the trip home but first we gotta pay for parking. I stick the ticket in and it doesn’t work. I try 3 or 4 times but the gate doesn’t go up. We are all like, is this for real? Finally it worked and boy were we happy.

We did have an adventure we will never forget and came out smarter especially Flo and Chago – they both got lessons and so did we.

Thank you to all our dedicated volunteers who help us to continue our mission and journeys.

God Bless – until next time
Gail

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May — We Remember

May is coming to a close but not before we get a chance to honor veterans and playing taps for all who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Flo and I drove to Fresno to honor a 90 year old female veteran who had her discharge reversed at the age of 90. Helen served in the Air Force and was discharged in 1952. She fought and won her case. How brave is this little lade to take on the government. She got her full honors back along with back pay. Her case has caught so much attention that they are bronzing her hands with her dog tags. When I met AnneMarie in DC and gave her a quilt, she told me about Helen and decided to give her a quilt. AnneMarie flew out to Clovis where Helen lives and still works as a Physical Therapist. We wanted to surprise her but Anne Marie sand that she had a friend coming and that we would like the surprise. Helen lives out in the country on 10 acres, a southwestern home and beautiful gardens. When we arrived I said I bet you get wild critters out here. She said she shoots the squirrels out her bedroom window and had killed 71 of them. That made me laugh. She was a really neat lady and no way would you think she was 91 years old. She was very gracious when I awarded her Quilt. She was preparing to have her hands bronzed. While we were there, we met her friend who had served and retired from the Army after 23 years as a nurse. I could hardly wait to give her a quilt. Look at her face – she cried and was so excited. It was such an honor to drive there and honor these two women who both went through so much.

I know May is always a busy month for all of Quilts of Honor. Table Rock Quilters will be having an event, Quilts of Honor Texas is also busy, and many of our other Chapters are busy as well. We also just welcomed a new QOH Chapter in Kentucky – Kentucky South East Quilts of Honor. We just keep honoring our veterans which is so great!

We had a great workshop this past week and received many pieced tops. Our fun for the day was singing happy birthday to Myra and Barbara who both had birthdays on the same day. Of course we let the ‘older ladies’ go first in line for lunch.

May we remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice – those like Johnny O. Brooks who suffered for years.

God bless all who continue to help us with our mission. May we never forget!

Gail

Boy, what a long night. That group of Marines can sure make a long program. It was 9:45pm when we finally got up to present quilts which made it a little unusual as to how we present and honor quilt recipients. They had run out of time and we didn’t get to present as we normally do. We are shipping home quilts because not everyone received theirs’s with the time frame. The first 10 recipients opened their quilts but the rest were opened when they went to their tables – not really how we like it. We did our job and we know we made some old Marines happy. One female veteran grabbed me and we opened the quilt and she said thank you. We gave a Navy nurse a quilt and she cried. Many said, “this is so nice” and one Marine was pacing, waiting for his name to be called.

Today we packed up the quilts to be sent home – enjoy the picture of the crew trying to stuff and tape the box – Carl ‘Eddie’, Rick, and Flo working and Rita supervising. We had a great quiche that Jeanine made for breakfast. We got our quilts shipped and then detoured to the Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial and the Korean Memorial so the crew could see. It is a warm beautiful day with bit billowing clouds. We packed back in the car and headed to ‘Pops”, our favorite ice cream parlor before we headed back to the house.

While we were in Old Town Alexandria, we decided to go to the Church of Christ and see where George Washington sat. It was really cool – 245 years old and all that history.

We are taking the day easier before we fly out Tuesday morning. We have to be to the airport by 4:30am and fly out at 6:00am. This has been a great trip and we make many memories every time we come to DC.

We can’t thank the Santillo family enough for all they have done for us. We will always be grateful for how they take us in and treat us so well. They have truly been our blessing and we love them both.

Thank you all who helped us continue our mission. Until our next adventure ——-

God Bless
Gail

As I write this Blog, my heart is saddened as our Commander of our Valley Springs Honor Guard has gone to post everlasting. Bill Crane was a veteran brother but also a good friend. He always treated me with respect and as I visited him in his last days, he said, “I have the best bugler in the world.” So, tonight when I play taps it will be in his honor.

We had a slow day at the house enjoying each other and especially Jeanine and Carl. It is always special to stay here – it’s like coming home. We get homemade food and this morning we had waffles. We also got to spend time with Sara and Julia.

Then we unpacked the quilts and repacked them in duffle bags. It took all 10 bags as we have exactly 100 quilts that we will give out. It may not seem like very many to you all but it truly is at one time. We got to the hotel, got our quilts on a luggage cart, and up to the 16th floor. We have the quilts hidden under table cloths and we are ready.

You know me, always asking whomever we meet, ‘are you a veteran’. So there I go asking the DJ and find that he is retired Air Force. When everyone is out of the room, we award Kevin a quilt. Look at that smile and yes, I got a hug. Our room is beautifully decorated Marine style. They have quite a program scheduled.

What a ceremony the Marines are putting on. They had an ROTC Color Guard, then the national anthem. There was a beautiful candle lighting of all the Fallen and a sister lit one candle for her brother. One of the Marines sang a beautiful song about not being forgotten. By the time that was all done, tears were flowing. A bagpiper played Amazing Grace, then my turn. Thank God I didn’t blow any notes. We have a packed house with over 200 people in attendance.

Gail

Note from Jan:  As of 9:30pm DC time, our QOH Crew had not begun presenting quilts.  Since it is now about 11:00pm there, I will post Part I.  I am sure there will be many photos and much more to report tomorrow so as Gail would say, Stay tuned. . . . . . . .

 

Today I got to spend some special time with Carl, Jeanine’s husband. He is always so busy and always helping someone. He asked if I could go with him to see a wounded veteran who he had made a box for to help her get up the stairs. He had told me about Anne Marie, an Air Force veteran, and Carl felt she needed a quilt. I picked out the quilt before we left home. He had told me a little of her background, PTSD and shattered leg. The quilt I chose was from Betsy, our Vietnam veteran nurse, who had pieced the quilt. I quilted it before we left home so it was made by two women veterans. We didn’t know if Anne Marie would be home but God knew. She came to the door and let us in. We talked about our service and her wounded leg. I think we were meant to meet and I pray honoring her with a quilt will help her. She even had an empty quilt rack. She is in a new place to live and has no bars for the disabled in her bathrooms so it’s got to be hard. Carl had changed two of her doors because they opened the wrong way and getting into the bathroom and the house wasn’t easy. She wants to be able to walk again and she seems determined and I bet she will one day. Guess what else we have in common – she has a service dog and she came right to me when we stepped in the door. It was nice to talk to another veteran with similar problems. I was honored to meet Anne Marie and so thankful she was home and Carl could work out our meeting. I meet many heroes and Anne Marie is another one. I hope to meet her again soon.

Then Carl took me to his daughter’s place so I could meet Sara, their granddaughter who was adopted from China, their grandson Daniel, and son-in-law Michael. Michael is an Air Force veteran and a veteran trumpet player who retired from the Air Force band. Sara was burned as a child and has had numerous surgeries at Boston Hospital but she is a fighter and is now playing soccer. I got a tour of the country side – the flowers are truly beautiful in all the yards.

We rested for a while then went to our favorite ice cream parlor, Pops. Boy was that ice cream good! We all enjoyed it but we missed Toni and Lou. We walked around Old Town then came home so Rita could finish our Cinco de Mayo dinner. We also spent some time with Julia, Jeanine’s older granddaughter. She was impressed with Debbie and Flo’s stories of our quilts and is thinking about making her own – she is 14 years old.

Rita outdid herself with dinner. We all made tostadas, had Spanish rice, refried beans and there were also margaritas to stay in the theme. We were all stuffed. Carl, also known as Eddie, was our entertainment for the evening when he got stuck in his chair and had to be helped out.

The weather has cooled and we had some rain drops. Tomorrow we will prepare our quilts. We have to be at the event by 5:00 pm to hide the quilts – we will be giving out 98 quilts – might be quite a night!

In ending tonight, I thank God for blessing me with this QOH family and for Carl and Jeanine always supporting me. We always have fun, we work hard, and never forget our veterans.

God bless and stay tuned . . . . . . . . .
Gail

Last Night was another night for the books. We got to Fredericksburg 2 hours before the event. Right before the event we found out quite a few of the guys were sick so they had a veteran step in to receive the quilt so that his name could be announced and the quilt could be shown. Before we gave the quilts out, we listened to James Jones, USMC (Ret). He was their speaker and a very interesting man, once the Commandant of the Marine Corps and former National Security Advisor. When General Jones was finished speaking, it was our turn.

I explained to the room that we came back to award quilts to those who couldn’t attend. We gave out 17 quilts. There were quite a few who had gotten sick so they had the veterans stand in for them so all could be honored. We gave General Jones his quilt last and I looked like a midget next to him. He was so tall.

One of the guys with the Marine Unit told the group how we had come across country and we were all volunteers and then everyone stood up and gave us all a standing ovation – it felt like they clapped for 5 minutes. One man came up and handed me $100 and then when we left, they lined up and shook our hands. Today I got a text from my Point of Contact for the group, Jim Williams. “The prolonged standing ovation you and your team received should tell you how incredibly grateful we all were that you took the time to bring Quilts to us and spend time listening to our speaker.” So, we done good!

This morning we headed to Ft. Belvoir to get ID card renewed for Val and Flo – both of their cards expired on the same day – they were happy girls when they came out. I said it was because the Army took care of them on the Army base. We left there and took the gang to the PX. While we were walking around, I ran into my Women’s Army Corps Bank trumpet sister. That was a great surprise to see her. We sit next to each other at every reunion and play our trumpets.

We left Ft. Belvoir and went to Mt. Vernon to get our Christmas ornaments. Then I asked the crew if they wanted to go back to the house or the ‘5 and dime’ in Alexandria. Guess what they said. You’re right – we went to the ‘5 and dime’ – you know they have fabric and taffy. We also did a bakery stop at our favorite bakery. We came back to the house, ate all of Jeanine’s leftovers and decided we better take Flo to the Vietnam Wall. We pile back in the Yukon and off we go and yes, I did another dang U-turn and my U-turns are becoming longer – 5 miles. We finally find a parking place and walk to the Wall. It was 91 degrees and we were all sweating. We were all glad for Flo – she could see Johnny’s name again and leave a small quilt. The Park guys said they would make sure it got to the museum staff. We sweated all the way back to the car and headed to the Sheraton to meet up with Chuck, our Point of Contact for the Marines. On the way up the hill we got to see the Air Force Memorial. When we got to the hotel we found out we were on the 16th floor and the views were awesome.

We came home and had a great dinner by Jeanine with her new steam oven. Everybody is winding down for the night. We still may make a trip to Pops for ice cream.

It was a great day! We are proud we could honor our Marines last night. We are completing our mission.

God Bless
Gail

Jeanine made a great breakfast this morning then we got to work preparing quilts for tonight’s event awarding Quilts to TB 1-68 Marines. After we got the quilts ready, we made a Walmart/Costco run so we could all get cooler shirts. It’s in the 90s today breaking a heat record.

It is the first time Rita has been to Jeanine and Carl’s and you know how I call it the ‘mansion’? Well, we get ready to go get in the car and Rita starts to walk in the closet to get out. Now that was a conversation by all seeing Rita coming out of the closet. Then we get to Walmart, there are 6 of us in the car, everyone gets out but forget to let Rita out of the back. I don’t think it was Rita’s morning.

We came back to the house and took it slow as we had to leave 2 ½ hours before the event started. Traffic was so bad – I’m here to tell you it was worse than California – stop and go forever.

The TB 1-68 Marines bought us dinner which was very nice. We were preparing to hand out quilts when they asked for one more quilt – we had no more quilts. We had already added 2 more. So, Rita takes off her name tag, Rick goes to the car and gets the Duffle bag, Rita sneaks into the ballroom and retrieves the quilt so Flo can make a new label and then Flo, Rita and Val sewed it on. We had 1 hour to make this happen but this crew was thinking and they all worked to get it right. We gave to this group in March 2017 and are finishing their group with 17 more quilts. Each guy has brought their quilt from last year and they are going to go out behind the hotel and hold them for all to see and to take photos.

I will write more tomorrow but I have included one photo from this evening. All I can say is that we got a standing ovation and they kept clapping.

We done good!
Gail