Quilts of Valor - Local women help craft tributes to troops


By DENISE HARTSE         Star Staff Writer

American military members are serving the United States overseas and around the world. Many of those who are serving in the military have been touched by war.

War not only impacts those who serve in the military, but  those who stay at home, waiting for their loved ones and friends to return. Many of those people want to serve our nation in some way.

“Under Our Wings” is a program that lets anyone serve his or her country by making a Quilt of Valor for a military member serving in the American armed services who has been touched by war.

Two members of the Miles City Centennial Quilters Guild are participating in this project. One member of the guild, Carol Jerrett, has finished a Quilt of Valor that she gave to Guthrie Oistad of Big Timber. He is the son of Jerrett’s cousin and is serving in Kuwait. Jerrett said she left the quilt with Guthrie’s parents, who will keep it for him until he returns home.

“We talked about the Quilts of Valor at a guild meeting,” said Jerrett. “It sounded like a good idea. I decided to give my quilt to Guthrie because he’s serving overseas now.”

Jerrett said that she also has another Quilt of Valor she made and is having Carla Muggli quilt for her.

“I’m going to give that quilt to my husband,” said Jerrett. “He served in the submarine unit of the Navy.”      

Another guild member, Ann Tribby, is spearheading a project to finish a Quilt of Valor by the end of the guild’s year in June 2014. She is collecting 10-1/2-inch square unfinished quilt blocks (10-inch finished size) in patriotic colors of red, white and blue to sew into a sampler quilt. Some of the guild’s members have contributed blocks, and Tribby said that anyone who wishes to donate quilt blocks for the project may do so. The blocks must be made of 100 percent cotton fabric and may be in any pattern as long as they are the correct size and in colors of red, white and blue. 

Blocks may be sent or delivered to Tribby at 703 Cale Ave. in Miles City or may be dropped off at the Miles City Star before Friday, Dec. 27. Tribby plans to start putting the quilt top together in January 2014.

The blocks will be sewn into a sampler quilt that will be given to the local Montana National Guard unit. Tribby said she was still looking for someone to quilt the top.

“We [the quilters] had decided to give it [the quilt] to the local Guard unit and they can use it any way they want; they gan give it to someone serving in the unit, use it as a fund-raiser to support the local Guard unit or use it in some other way,” said Tribby.

She added that she started the project when “someone at one of our quilt guild meetings talked about the Quilts of Valor project. I just thought it was a good idea and at the time I decided to do it, our local Guard unit was deployed. 

“I thought the quilt was a good way to support what they were doing.”

The Quilts of Valor Foundation was started by Blue Star mother Catherine Roberts of Seaford, Del. Her son, Nathanael, had been deployed to Iraq for a year. That provided the initial inspiration for the project. The rest was provided by Roberts’ desire to see that warriors who were returning from the war were welcomed home with the love and gratitude they deserved.

She figured her goal of covering all returning service men and women who served in the war could be achieved by linking quilt-top makers with machine quilters in a national effort. These wartime quilts, Quilts of Valor, would be a reminder of America’s appreciation and gratitude toward those serving in the military. 

According to a news release on the QOVF Web site, since 2003, QOVF has become a national grassroots community service effort, connecting the home-front with wounded combat warriors and veterans. QOVF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Each of the quilts is stitched with love, prayers and healing thoughts. Combat troops who have been wounded or touched by war receive these tangible tokens of appreciation, which say, “Thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor.”

Each Quilt of Valor is a generous lap-sized quilt no smaller than 55  by 65 inches. They are made of quality fabrics by piecers and are machine quilted. Following the quilting, each quilt is bound, washed, labeled and wrapped in a presentation case. Only then is it ready to be presented. 

Quilts are awarded at many different levels: they might go to military hospitals where chaplains award them to service members; QOVs may be presented to entire service units returning from combat deployments; they may be given to individuals; or they may be presented in many other ways. No matter how a Quilt of Valor is given, the impact delivered by it is unequivocal. As one U.S. Army recipient said, “My quilt isn’t another military medal to be placed in a box and sit on my shelf. I was moved to tears.” 

Each Quilt of Valor is a form of national service that anyone can do to recognize and thank those who serve in the nation’s military. 

For more information about the quilt for which Tribby is collecting blocks, she may be contacted at 234-0223. For information about the Quilts of Valor Foundation and project, visit the Web site at: wwwQOVF.org.