Quilts of Valor

by Kayla Williams

Local Veterans Honored with Quilts


String-A-Long Stars and Stripes, Quilts of Valor Foundation group from Valparaiso, Ind., hosted a day-long sit-n-sew featuring executive board member Marianne Fons and a presentation to eight veterans from the Middlebury and Shipshewana area on June 24.

At the 2016 Shipshewana Quilt Festival, the following veterans received a quilt: Lt. Philip Jakubowicz, Eric Houser, Richard Stutz, Harold Wasson, Douglas Weaver, Leonard Wisowaty, and Michael Swallow. A surprise quilt was awarded to Jack Cook.

Sewing machines were provided by The Cotton Corner of Shipshewana for free use at Yoder’s Shopping Center. Marianne Fons, who is well known to quilters everywhere who watch “Love of Quilting” nationwide on public television and as a founding editor of the popular magazine Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting, was on-site for sewing and signing autographs, as well as to help present the veterans’ quilts.

Quilts of Valor recipients ranged from active duty members to WWII veterans.

The first veteran to be honored was Lieutenant Philip Jakubowicz, who is currently deployed in the U.S. Navy and serving with the U.S. Marines Dental, stationed in Okinawa. He is a member of Middlebury American Legion Post 210. His parents, Fred and Tena Jakubowicz, represented him in the ceremony and received his quilt and certificate.

Eric Houser served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1986-1993 and participated in Desert Storm. He also served in the Persian Gulf from 1990-1991 as a combat engineer. He served in Somalia, Africa, in 1992 as a part of Restore Hope. Houser is currently serving in the U.S. Army Reserves Military Police as an instructor and he is a member of Middlebury American Legion Post 210.

Richard Stutz served in the U.S. Army during World War II as a sergeant. From 1943-1945 Stutz was a mechanic with the 3rd Armored Division in Africa and France under General Patton. He also served in Korea from 1948-1951 as a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant with the 439th Engineering and Construction Battalion. He is also a member of Middlebury American Legion Post 210.

Harold Wasson served in the U.S. Air Force as a sergeant in Iraq and Afghanistan. He entered as an active duty member in 1987. His specialties during service with the U.S. Air Force, Army and Army National Guard included air assault, small weapons repair, vehicle operations and vehicle management. Wasson is a member of Middlebury American Legion Post 210.

Douglas Weaver served in the U.S. Army as a Spec 4 in Vietnam. He entered service March 1969, was trained at Ft. Polk, La., and arrived in Vietnam in July 1969. He was wounded in action in February 1970 and discharged from the Army March 1971. Weaver was awarded a Purple Heart along with other medals and awards. He is a member and Post Commander of Middlebury American Legion Post 210.

Leonard Wisowaty served in the U.S. Army as an E-5 sergeant in Korea. He served in the European Theater of Operations as assistant chief operations and fire direction section. Wisowaty received the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and Army of Occupation Medal (Germany). He is a member of Middlebury American Legion Post 210.

Michael Swallow was in the Navy Construction Battalion from 1966-1970. He also served in Vietnam for two six-month terms.

Jack Cook was also recognized for his efforts in helping to organize the presentation. Cook was surprised with the award he helped others to receive.

Cook is the Middlebury American Legion Post 210 First Vice Commander and membership chairman. He signed up and volunteered for Vietnam as a radarman, then was a mechanic for diesels and later became a boatswain trainer, serving from 1967-1971. Cook has been involved with the American Legion and started up American Legion posts in the Michigan City Prison as well as others in Indiana.

Quilts of Valor Indiana State Coordinator Christine Clifford Hurley was also in Shipshewana for the presentation. Quilts of Valor Foundation started in 2003 with the mission to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor (QOV).

Catherine Roberts founded QOV after she had a dream of a despaired soldier brought to healing by a quilt. Roberts began the startup foundation in her home shortly after and it became known across the nation by word of mouth and the internet.

The Shipshewana Quilt Festival, held annually in the heart of Indiana’s Amish Country, is the region’s largest event of its kind featuring a quilt and vendor show, educational workshops and lectures, a quilter’s schoolhouse, Backroads Shop Hop, and more. The Shipshewana Quilt Festival has been named a 2016 Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association (ABA) for the second year in a row and has been honored as a 2016 Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project.