ASHLAND – Fourteen men sat draped in quilts pieced together from red, white and blue fabric adorned with stars, stripes and other patriotic emblems. They humbly listened as the women who crafted these works of art read their military history, then they gathered with their families to celebrate.
The Prairie Point Quilters, a group of quilters from the Ashland area, awarded patriotic quilts to 14 local veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War during a moving ceremony on Aug. 17 at the Ashland Public Library. The presentation was co-hosted by the Ashland American Legion Post 129 Auxiliary.
Linda Roeber, one of the quilters, said the group made 18 quilts for the Quilts of Valor program. It is a nationwide program started by Delaware resident Catherine Roberts in 2003 after her son was deployed to Iraq.
“It’s a very worthwhile program,” said Roeber.
The quilters began making Quilts of Valor last year, and awarded three quilts to veterans individually with little fanfare. This year, they made quite a few more.
“After we started making (the quilts) last year, it got sort of contagious,” said Roeber.
Because they had completed so many quilts, the Prairie Point Quilters decided to do a group presentation this year. They contacted the Ashland American Legion Post and its auxiliary.
The veterans who were not able to attend the presentation will be awarded their quilts individually at a later date.
The members of the quilt group read biographies prepared by the veterans during the ceremony. The American Legion Department commander for Nebraska, Commander Gary Wooten of Wilbur, attended the presentation, along with Nebraska American Legion Auxiliary President Elizabeth Paes of Prague and Boyd Yochum of Ashland, Area B vice commander.
The following men were honored during the program.
LaVerne “Lefty” Anderson
In January 1955, Anderson’s first stop was Fort Bliss Texas during his stint in the Army. He then went to Fort Ord for three days and later boarded a large ship to sail to Hawaii.
“After 16 months in Hawaii they told me I had done enough damage and I could go home,” he wrote.
Beranek volunteered for service in the Army from 1954 to 1956. He achieved the rank of specialist 3. He went to basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and then Fort Benning, Ga. for mechanic schooling. He later served at Fort Knox, Ky. in the Third Armor Division, 509th Tank Bn., as a tank mechanic.
Jimmie Boston Sr.
Boston enlisted in the Air Force in 1955 and served four years in active duty and two years in the reserves. He signed up in Tennessee and after boot camp he was transferred to the Air Force base in Lincoln. When he signed up, he initially was going to be a mechanic. But the position was frozen at the time, so he was assigned to the air police, guarding the bomb dump and the flight lines. During his time in the Air Force, he served overseas in England.
Boston joined the service because his father had served in the Army during World War I and served in the Navy in World War II. Boston and his cousin signed up together but didn’t get to serve in the same unit.
He remembered when alerts would sound, the airmen would grab their gear and run to board a plane, not knowing where they would be going. Usually they would return a few hours later after the drill was over.
Glenn “Dick” Buckmaster
Buckmaster was drafted into the Army on May 9, 1952 in Omaha. He was trained as a field radio repair person, learning about AC/DC electricity, how to solder wires and minor trouble shooting. He was sent to Signal School at Fort Monmouth, N.J. and eventually he was switched to microwave repair. He worked a combination of both field radio repair and microwave repair for about eight months. He was assigned to Camp San Luis Obispo, Calif. for permanent assignment. With all of his technical training, he became a morning reports checker for 35 companies.
He was promoted to private first class (E-3). In July 1953, the Army closed the camp and sent Buckmaster to Fort Hood, Texas. He was promoted to corporal (E-4). Shortly before his release on May 8, 1954, he was promoted to sergeant (E-5). After serving two years active duty, Buckmaster spent four years on standby and two more years in the ready reserve.
His military training led to his employment with Northwestern Bell for 36 years. He retired on Jan. 1, 1990.
Richard “Dick” DeLancey
DeLancey was inducted into the Army on Jan. 22, 1953 in Omaha as a private (E-1). On May 22, 1953, he was released from active service and transferred to the Army Reserve to complete eight years of service under the Universal Military Training and Service Act.
During his time in the Army, he received a Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal and a Meritorious Unit Citation. He was assigned to Company A, 378th Eng. Combat Bn. He was released from active military service on April 20, 1954 at Fort Carson, Colo.
Deleski enlisted in the Air Force in December 1951 to March 1954. He served during the Korean War. He was stationed at three bases in Texas for training, and also attended schooling in Kansas and Colorado. He flew on an elite crew on a B-29 bomber as a CFC. He was sent overseas to Japan for eight months and flew missions out of there until he was discharged.
“Thank you for this honor,” he said.
Hurst joined the Navy in January 1956 and served until Dec. 4, 1957. He attended boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill. He then boarded the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Va., where he served as an EM3. During his service the USS Wisconsin covered 85,000 miles of ocean, including the North Atlantic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the Mediterranean Sea.
They traveled to 11 countries and saw several places, such as Barcelona, Spain, Naples, Italy, Greenock, Scotland, the Arctic Circle, London, England and Brest, France. They traveled through the Panama Canal down to Valparaiso, Chile, which was Hurst’s first trip cross the equator. His last trip on the USS Wisconsin was to New York City.
He was on reserve duty until January 1962.
Mason joined the Army National Guard in 1952. He went on active duty in June 1953. He was stationed in Fort Knox, Ky. and Fort Hood, Texas. In May 1954 he was sent to Germany. He was a member of the First and Second Armored Divisions.
While in Germany, Mason was in the Fourth Recon. Co, Fourth Infantry Division. Part of their duty was to patrol the East German border.
He was in the military for about five years. His job was tank section leader.
Charles “Chuck” Reisen
Reisen served in the Navy from 1952 to 1956. He joined on Sept. 7, 1952 and went to boot camp in San Diego, Calif. He was sent to board the carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt where he worked on the hanger deck. They went to the Mediterranean Sea for a six month cruise.
After returning to Norfolk, Va., Reisen was sent to Bremerton, Wash. to decommission the ship. The ship was too big to fit through the Panama Canal, so they went around the horn to Bremerton.
Then he went to San Diego to board the USS Wasp, where they made two- to six-month cruises to the Far East. He returned to San Francisco for discharge as an AB3 on Sept. 5, 1956.
Schuelke enlisted in the Air National Guard on Sept. 1, 1965 in Lincoln. He was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant (E-5) after six years of service.
Schulte served in the Army from February 1953 to February 1955. He went to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. and water supply school in Fort Belvoir, Va. He was stationed near Orleans, France from Sept. 1953 to June 1954. He worked in the supply depot.
From July 1954 to February 1955 he was stationed at Fort Riley, Kan., where he also worked in the supply depot.
James R. “JR” Sikyta
Sikyta volunteered for the draft in March 1963 and went to basic training at Fort Lewis, Wash. and advanced individual training in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Upon completion of training he was assigned to service in Vietnam as a combat medic.
He was sent to DaNang and from there assigned to the 45th Eng. Group, 39th Combat Eng. Bn. in Chu Lai. He was assigned to Company B Landing Zone Dottie, where he spent most of his deployment working as a combat medic.
He was hurt during the Tet Offensive when a landmine was detonated by locals. The medical aid bag he carried on his back helped save him from more severe injuries. He still has shrapnel and other foreign objects in various places in his body.
Two weeks before his 12-month deployment was up, Sikyta was sent to battalion headquarters in Chu Lai for debriefing. Unfortunately, the combat medic at Landing Zone Goldie was killed, and Sikyta was sent to replace him, extending his deployment two more months.
He received the National Defense Medal, Experts Weapons Marksmanship Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, two Combat Service Bars, a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
Sikyta started his enlistment as a private but was promoted to the grade of Specialist 5 (E-5). He returned home in October 1969. A severe infection nearly cost him his right arm, but doctors at the Lincoln Veterans Hospital were able to save the arm. He was on ready reserve for six years, being honorably discharged in March 1974.
Veroaecke was inducted into the Army on Feb. 8, 1952. He was sent to Camp Chaffee, Ark. for his basic training. He was shipped through San Francisco to Korea.
He was put in artillery in the Korean War, close to the 35th Parallel. At times, he lived in caves in the mountains of Korea as there were a lot of incoming artillery as the North Koreans were going for more ground. He helped fire a lot of rounds over the mountains to try to stall the North Koreans. He was released from service on Nov. 7, 1953 at Camp Carson, Colo.
For his service, he received the Korean Service Medal with three Bronze Stars, the United Nations Service Medal, the Meritorious Unit Commendation and the National Defense Service Medal.
Yates joined the Iowa National Guard right after graduating from high school in Creston, Iowa. In 1949, while attending Drake University in Des Moines, he joined the Air Force because he was already a licensed pilot, having earned his license at the age of 16. He was sent to Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville, N.C. to fly planes, including the P-51 fighter plane, AT-6 training plane and C-46 transport planes as he trained for potential missions.
He was a management analyst as a pilot, flying P-51 Mustangs, F-84 Thunder jets and F-86 Sabres, and others. He was in charge of making sure everything was being done correctly on the aircraft.
He was assigned to the 124th Figher Squadron during the Korean War. After serving three years in the Air Force, he spent nine years in the Air National Guard. He received an honorable discharge with the rank of technical sergeant in 1958.