Quilts of Valor Foundation reaches milestone as it presents 300,000th quilt in Brevard

From left are Quilts of Valor honorees Michael Geremia, Erby Bolt and Richard Donoghue, and seated is Joe Cooper.
From left are Quilts of Valor honorees Michael Geremia, Erby Bolt and Richard Donoghue, and seated is Joe Cooper.

The Quilts of Valor Foundation passed a major milestone last week in Brevard, as it awarded its 300,000th quilt to a war veteran.

One June 14 in Brevard, the Blue Ridge Quilts of Valor Chapter awarded the 300,000th quilt to World War II and Korean War veteran Joe Cooper. His quilt was made by Sheila Solen, quilted by Terry Shuler and bound by Carol Price.

Cooper was joined by veterans Richard Donoghue, Erby Bolt, and Mike Geremia in receiving original handmade patriotic quilts. The Quilts of Valor Foundation was founded in 2003 by Catherine Roberts to honor her son, Nat, who was deployed in Iraq. A total of 313,053 quilts have been awarded throughout the United States, Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Below is a description of each of the quilt honorees:

Michael Geremia

Geremia served in the US Army from 1958-1964 during the Vietnam conflict. He was honorably discharged after achieving the rank of Specialist E5. His duty stations included Ft. Dix, Ft. Devens, Ft. Drum and Ft. Gordon. While he was at the 443 CA Co, the unit received orders to go to Laos in 1962. He was all packed and ready to go when the order was canceled.

Geremia is currently a Pathfinder at the Veterans History Museum and a member of the Honor Guard of Transylvania County. His quilt was made by Pam Knies and quilted by Beth Berglin.

Erby Bolt

Bolt served in the U.S. Army from 1950-1952 during the Korean Conflict. Here is his story in his words: “When the Korean War broke out in 1950, I was drafted. The North Koreans were in South Korea at that time, but they were pushing them north. I was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division, supplying ammunition and supplies to the gunners out in the field. It was almost cleaned out when we got there. We went to the 38th parallel and stopped.

"We were going down through this rice paddy, this boy was driving a truck and I saw a wire strung across our way. I told the driver to stop while I put the wire down on the ground. When he got there, the front left wheel hit a pressure mine. It blew the front end out of that truck and the motor, top and all. It knocked both of us out and we were both pretty much tore up, but thankful we were alive. Our truck was loaded with ammunition. We took shrapnel. People saw what happened and took us to a field hospital and patched up. They dressed us up and took care of us. That was 1951. I got out of the Army in 1952."

Richard Donoghue

Donoghue served in the US Army from 1969-2008. This timeline included serving during Vietnam, the Cold War and Operation Enduring Freedom. His duty stations included Germany, Korea, Italy, Panama, Kuwait, Honduras, Ecuador and Turkey.

He began his service in 1969 with the 91st Engineer Battalion at Ft. Bezoeken in Germany. This was followed by a station with Heidleberg Resident Engineer office of the 79th Engineer Battalion. He was stationed in the Far East District in Korea, Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, served in the US Army Reserve, and 1977-1994: 3rd Battalion 20th Squadron, 53 Infantry Brigade.

Donoghue was honorably discharged with of rank of O6, Colonel. His quilt was made by Trudy Lapke, a friend of Quilts of Valor and Didi Salvatierra. It was quilted by Carole Carter.

Joe Dayton Cooper

Joe Cooper served in the US Navy from 1941-1945 during World War II and the US Army from 1948-1953 during the Korean Conflict. His duty stations included The Philippines, China, Germany and Korea.

He joined the US Navy on December 27, 1941, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He served as a gunner’s mate on the USS Ommaney Bay aircraft carrier in the Pacific. In 1944, his ship was attacked by a Japanese kamikaze. He and his shipmates began throwing off ammunition in an attempt to prevent a massive explosion, but they were soon told to abandon ship.

He was rescued and taken to the USS Minneapolis, where they watched the Ommaney Bay burning. Cooper was discharged in 1945. Cooper then joined the US Army. assigned to Germany during the Berlin Airlift in 1948, then was sent to Korea: Heartbreak Ridge and Punchbowl. Cooper was discharged from the Army in 1953.

For more information about Quilts of Valor or to nominate a veteran to receive a quilt, visit www.qovf.org. The Veterans History Museum of the Carolina hosted this ceremony. The museum is located at 21 East Main St. in Brevard. Admission is free. The museum is open 11 a.m.-3 p,m. Tuesday–Saturday. For more information, visit www.theveteransmuseum.org.

This article originally appeared on Hendersonville Times-News: Quilts of Valor Foundation reaches milestone as it presents 300,000th quilt in Brevard