Twenty-three Senior Village veterans get Quilts of Valor on Flag Day

Al McFarling, 96, who was a Marine in World War II and served in the military from 1944 to 1947, smiles after receiving a Quilt of Valor while King City Mayor Jaimie Fender (right) cheers him on. Barbara Sherman/Tigard Life
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This year’s Flag Day celebration at King City Senior Village was without a doubt the biggest ever. The staff turned the day that commemorates the adoption of the United States flag on June 14, 1777, into a celebration of 23 resident veterans.

Don Whetsell, who served in the Korean War and was in the Air Force from 1951 to 1955, gives the keynote address at the King City Senior Village event under the watchful eye of Activities Director Deana McIntyre. Barbara Sherman/Tigard Life

The day included the presentation of a Quilt of Valor to each veteran. (Coincidentally, the Quilts of Valor Foundation is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.)

Patriot Guard Riders, Paradise Hog Riders and American Legion Riders kicked off the event with a ride-through on their motorcycles followed by a fly-over by the West Coast Ravens in the Missing Man formation. A Marine Corps Honor Guard presented the colors while “Taps” was played, and “Patriotic Music in the Sunshine with Chris Anderson” entertained the residents while they enjoyed an al fresco lunch. 

After Megan Desalvo, CEO of the Tigard Chamber of Commerce, welcomed everyone, King City Senior Village Executive Director Tonya Hamilton and Marketing Director Angela Lile did the honors of the ribbon-cutting. Tigard Mayor Heidi Lueb and King City Mayor Jaimie Fender both greeted the crowd, and Fender helped hand out quilts.

Don Whetsell, who was in the Air Force from 1951 to 1955 and served in the Korean War, was the keynote speaker. Whetsell told the crowd about “The Man Without a Country.” Whetsell said he read the book by Edward Everett Hale, first published in 1863, while he was in high school, and the story always stayed with him.

King City Senior Village Executive Director Tonya Hamilton (left) and Marketing Director Angela Lile maneuver a giant pair of scissors to cut the ribbon to kick off the Quilts of Valor event. Barbara Sherman/Tigard Life

In the story, Philip Nolan, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was convicted of treason in 1807, and during his trial he renounced the United States, saying he never wanted to see it again. The judge granted his wish, sending him into exile aboard U.S. Navy ships with no one allowed to mention the U.S. again to him. Nolan was transferred from ship to ship and never went into a port, and over the years he regretted his action and missed his country.

When he was dying 55 years later, he showed his room to an officer, which had become a patriotic shrine, and he begged the officer to tell him news about the U.S. The officer relented and shared the country’s history before Nolan died and was buried at sea. Nolan left an epitaph that said in part about himself, “He loved his country as no other man has loved her… ”

Following lunch and entertainment, Chris Dunn, a Quilts of Valor volunteer, led the program to present the quilts. “This is an incredible event, and thank you to those at this facility who put it on,” she said.

Dunn explained the Quilts of Valor Foundation began in 2003 when founder Catherine Roberts, whose son Nat was deployed in Iraq, had a dream about a young man sitting in utter despair on his bed. Then she could see him wrapped in a quilt with his whole demeanor changed thanks to the quilt. Roberts came up with a model of volunteers making Quilts of Valor and enveloping veterans in “quilt hugs.”

Bob Wilson, who served in the British Royal Navy as an Able Seaman from 1952 to 1960, proudly walks away after receiving his Quilt of Valor from Loriann Payne (left) and Jane Tyler. Behind them are Chris Dunn on the left and Mayor Jaimie Fender on the right. Barbara Sherman/Tigard Life

“We started slow, but now we have made more than 348,000 quilts,” Dunn said of the nationwide effort. “Those who have served allow us to live here. Freedom isn’t free.

“The beauty of Quilts of Valor is that it takes tons of people. All positions are essential. During Covid, we didn’t get together, but boy, did we make quilts. Each quilt has been touched by several hands and a lot of love.  Each one has been washed and is ready to use. They are not a decoration – they are meant to be used. We have no idea what you went through, but most of all, we want to thank you for your service.”

In addition to Whetsell, others receiving quilts were Dave Farrand, Army, Vietnam War (1969-1972); Larry Seymore, Army, Vietnam War (1968-1970), Army National Guard (1985-2005); Bob Granquist, Army, Vietnam War (1967-1968); William Hight Jr., Army, Vietnam War (1966-1968); Len Ufford, Air Force, Vietnam War (1964-1968); Atila Ergeneken (officer in Turkey (1963-1965); Ray Beyer (Army, Vietnam (1961-1962); and Charles Crass, Army, Vietnam War (1960-67).

Mayor Jaimie Fender (far left) congratulates Dick Eaton with Cheri Stuller on the left and Linda Toner on the right; Eaton was in the Navy from 1952 to 1956 and served in the Korean War. Barbara Sherman/Tigard Life

Other veterans receiving quilts were Joe Monihan, Army, Vietnam War (1959-1994); Dave Leaf, Army, Vietnam War (1957-1962); Jerry Wick, Army, Korean Way (1955-1956); Joe Isaac, Air Force (1955-1963), recently deceased, so his wife Pat accepted is quilt; Don Miller, Army/Korean War (1952-1953); Betty Gaul Navy/Korean War (1952-1956); Dick Eaton Navy, Korean War (1952-1956); and Bob Wilson, an Able Seaman in the Royal British Navy (1952-1960).

Other honored veterans getting quilts were Ken Wilderson, Marines, Korean War, Vietnam War (1952-1972); Lou Bunch, Navy, Korean War (1951-1954); John Edgell, Army, Korean War (1951-1953), National Guard (1959-1965); Gerald Gleason, Navy, Korean War (1950-1970); Bill Gerkin, Army, Korean War (1949-1991); and Ralph (Al) McFarling, Marines, WWII (1944-1947).

In addition to Dunn, other Quilts of Valor volunteers at the event were Myrtle Eddens, Linda Toner, Sharon Brenier, Loriann Payne, Jane Tyler, Cheri Stuller and Maryann Gasbarro.

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