From left to right: Susan Wiedmaier of Quilts of Valor, U.S. Army Veterans Frank Salimbene and John “Jack” Miley, and Kathleen Decker of Quilts of Valor.
Williamsburg, Va. – “Though we may never know the extent of your sacrifice and service to protect and defend the United States of America, as an appreciation of our deep gratitude, we award you this Quilt of Valor."
Through tear-filled eyes, and before a small group of military veterans and their families gathered at Patriots Colony At Williamsburg this week, the Peninsula Patriots, a Virginia Quilt of Valor group, presented two residents of the retirement community – U.S. Army Veterans John “Jack” Miley (Korean War) and Frank Salimbene (Korean War and Vietnam War) – with handmade quilts for their service, sacrifice and a life lived touched by war.
Founded in 2003 by Catherine Roberts, a mother of a soldier deployed to Iraq, the Quilts of Valor Foundation’s mission is to “cover” service members and veterans “touched by war” with the comfort and healing a handcrafted quilt can bring.
The first Quilt of Valor was awarded in November 2003 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to a young soldier who lost his leg serving in Iraq. By 2018, nearly 200,000 veterans from nearly every modern conflict and across all 50 states have received a Quilt of Valor.
The Peninsula Patriots, a Virginia Quilt of Valor group, formed in 2018 and today boasts more than 40 members, said Kathleen Decker, Group Leader.
In the last three months, the Peninsula Patriots have presented 24 Quilts of Valor in Virginia, with nine ceremonies held this week alone, including the one at Patriots Colony At Williamsburg.
Decker, knowing the depth of service at Patriots Colony At Williamsburg, had approached Riverside Health System about awarding quilts to the veterans there.
Located in Williamsburg, Patriots Colony At Williamsburg is a Riverside continuing care retirement community – offering independent, assisted living, memory care, short-term rehabilitation and nursing home care – for those 55 and older. Independent living is dedicated for residents who served in the Armed Forces or as civil servants.
The veterans selected were nominated by a group of College of William & Mary students who have been working with the veterans in the community on an oral history video project.
“There are so many veterans here that we can honor,” Decker said. “We’re proud to start here today.”
John “Jack” Miley, now 94-years-old and a 1946 West Point Military Academy graduate, served in the Korean War with the U.S. Army’s 187th Regimental Combat Team. He logged two combat jumps before being wounded when a mortar fragment hit his spine.
Miley and his wife, Joanne still have that mortar fragment removed from his spine – about the size of a fingernail – in their home at Patriots Colony At Williamsburg as a reminder of the service and sacrifice of so many.
And now they also have their Quilt of Valor.
“I can’t express into words how thoughtful this is,” Miley said after receiving his Quilt of Valor. “The time and effort that goes into something like this is just so nice.”
Frank Salimbene served in the U.S. Army for 33 years, retiring as a colonel having served in special forces and in combat in both Korea as a platoon leader and Vietnam as a team leader.
A Patriots Colony At Williamsburg resident for the last 12 years, Salimbene has lived all over the world. His military journey started in his home state of Ohio, where he was attending college until he ran out of money.
“So I quit college and went to work,” he said. “Then, in 1951, I got a draft notice.”
He first served as a medic and then attended officer’s school.
While it was the military that originally chose him in the draft, he made a career out of serving the nation because he chose it.
“I stayed,” he said, “because I felt like I was doing something for my country.”
To receive a Quilt of Valor, awardees must be a service member or veteran who has been touched by war in some way. The community can request a quilt be made for a veteran by visiting www.QOVF.org.
Learn more about Patriots Colony At Williamsburg by calling 757-220-9000 or visit www.patriotscolony.org.
Published: November 7, 2018