103 Wabash County veterans commended at Quilts of Honor luncheon

Veteran Richard Tschantz receives a kiss on the cheek from his wife, Joyce Tschantz, after receiving his quilt. Photos by Emma Rausch

By Emma Rausch

More than 100 veterans gathered at the Bachelor Creek Church of Christ Friday afternoon, Nov. 10, and received thanks for their service from the Quilts of Honor Quilters and loved ones.

Throughout the last year, the Quilts of Honor Quilters, a group of 12 Wabash County women armed with needles, thread and star-spangled fabric, crafted handmade quilts and placemats as gifts of gratitude for 103 veterans.

In observance of Veteran’s Day, the group presented the quilted items during the fifth annual commemoration luncheon on Friday. First time attending veterans received a quilt while returning guests accepted placemats.

The group’s Chairman Lois VanMeter said that the act “is a labor of love.”

Although 103 were present to receive gifts, 116 were invited to be honored, including nine veterans that served during World War II, 15 in the Korean Conflict, 83 in the Vietnam War, one in Iraq and eight served in other capacities.

Dave Miller and Richard Kercher, who served in the Vietnam War, both received quilts this year.

“It’s wonderful and even better, because I came back from Vietnam in an era when they told us, ‘Don’t wear your uniform,’” Miller told The Paper. “They flew us into Travis (Air Force Base) in California and that’s what I had to do, but I didn’t really have any civilian clothes to speak of. I got some kind of rags from the personnel at the Travis Air Base and had to get on a plane, but there wasn’t a plane going to Chicago. So I had to get a hotel and it was a mess.

“It felt like you were in a different country. It was different. I served 28 years in the (United States) Coast Guard and then went to work for the Navy for 23 more.”

Miller agreed that Friday’s event was wonderful and he would encourage other veterans to attend next year’s luncheon. For a Vietnam veteran, it’s nice to be thanked and recognized after so long, he said.

“Look at the work that they did to (the quilts),” Miller said, pointing out the patterns and stitch work of his quilt. “It nice that they recognize the veterans. So many of them, they just kind of stay in the shadows, especially from the Vietnam (War) era. I had a little girl standing on my toes one time—this was after I was out—I was coming out of the federal building in my uniform. She was right on my toes and stopped me. She called me a baby killer and all sorts of things like that.

He later explained, “Those are a lot of the things that all the Vietnam era people had (to face). I was older then, but that’s just how things are.”

Kercher agreed with his fellow veteran.

“It’s really unbelievable that women and the church would do this for us veterans,” Kercher said. “I really appreciate and thank them. It’s an honor to come and I think every veteran should be here.”

Posted on 2017 Nov 14