Colors of honor

Four Tracy veterans received Quilts of Valor Monday. They are, front, from left: Jim Keul, Wilfredo Apostol, Arden Swan and Jans Visker. They were joined for this photo by, back, from left: District 7 American Legion Auxiliary President Susie Learing, Sue Keul, Alice Apostol, Barb and Richard Visker, and Ophelia, Michelle and Cameron Visker. Photos / Per Peterson

Quilts of  Valor bestowed on four Tracy veterans

Four Tracy veterans on Monday received their honorary Quilts of Valor during a ceremony at the Tracy American Legion Earle Ray Post.

Jans Visker (Air Force, Korean War), Jim Keul (U.S. Army, Vietnam), Arden Swan (U.S. Army, Korean War) and Wilfredo Apostol (Air Force, Desert Storm) were each presented their personal, patriotic quilt by 7th District American Legion Auxiliary President and Quilts of Valor member Susie Learing.

Inspired by her son’s deployment to Iraq, Catherine Roberts started Quilts of Valor Foundation in 2003 from her sewing room in Delaware.

“She had a desire to see that returning troops were welcomed home with love and gratitude,” Learing told the crowd Monday.

Since then, the Foundation has awarded more than 200,000 quilts to veterans and military members who have been touched by war in some fashion.

Learing and more than a dozen other volunteer quilters sew the quilts as part of the “Pieces for Heroes” group in Marshall. Learing figures it takes between 18-24 hours to finish a quilt, and each cost between $200-$300. The materials are all donated.

“These ladies are all volunteers,” said Learing. “Some belong to the Auxiliary and some just love to quilt.  The quilts are all different. I haven’t seen any quilts alike since I’ve been doing this.”

Each quilt was presented inside a matching pillow case; it’s the first time the Quilts of Valor group has included pillow cases with the quilts.

“Thank you to all the gals that do this, it means a lot to all of us,” Keul said.