Three Veterans were honored with a Quilt of Valor at a ceremony at the Veteran’s Club on Sunday. Loree Dienstbier, President of the Beatrice Legion Auxillary, presented John Garton, Suzanne How and Louis Oltmans their individual quilts.
“The Quilts of Valor Foundation is a national organization founded in 2003 by Catherine Roberts. With a son deployed in Iraq, she had a vision of a warrior struggling with his demons and then a quilt wrapped around him that comforted him and warded off the demons,” said Dienstbier.
“The mission of the Quilt of Valor Foundation is to cover all combat service members and Veterans touched by war with comfort and healing Quilts of Valor,” said Dienstbier.
“The Quilt of Valor is an expression of gratitude meant to thank and comfort each of the Veterans,” said Dienstbier.
Garton served in the Army from June 2, 1953 to May 20, 1955. He served at Camp Crowder, Missouri; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Bliss, Texas; and was stationed in France in Company 72nd Transportation. His rank was Corporal.
“I’m glad I served, but glad it’s done,” said Garton. “I’m honored to receive this quilt.”
How served in the United States Marine Corp. She served her first 13 years as a Signals Intelligence and Ground Electronic Warfare Special Intelligence Communicator. She served in Scotland, Okinawa, Hawaii, Korea, Philippines, and Republic of Panama.
Staff Sergeant How volunteered to become a Drill Instructor and trained recruits at Parris Island for three-and-a half years. How was transferred to be a Sergeant Instructor at Officer Candidate School, Quantico, Virginia. She later became the Staff NCOOIC of the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, Quantico.
Gunnery Sergeant How was selected to be the third ever enlisted female Marine to teach and train midshipmen at the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland.
She graduated in 2000 with a 4.0 GPA with a B.S. in Social Psychology by going to school at night.
Sergeant Major How is the first female in the history of the Corps to serve at all three places that “Make Marines”: Paris Island, Officer Candidate School and the United States Naval Academy.
How completed three deployments for Operation Iraqi Freedom. She retired Sergeant Major How after 27 years of service.
Her personal awards include: Two time Meritorious Service Medal; Four time Navy Commendation Medal; Four time Navy Achievement Medal; Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal; and Iraq Campaign Medals.
In 2017, How graduated from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota with a Masters of Divinity and was called to Immanuel Stateline and Our Savior’s Lutheran Churches in Wymore, Nebraska where she serves as Pastor.
“I’m deeply humbled and very honored to be awarded the Quilt of Valor,” said How.
Oltmans was one of the nation’s first soldiers to take part in field exercises testing the Army’s Pentomic battle concept. The pentomic tactical plan featured streamlined units with great mobility and firepower able to meet the need of the Atomic and Missle Age Warfare. Oltmans served as a Demolition Specialist in Company B of the 4th Infantry Division’s 4th Engineer Battalion at Ft. Lewis, Washington.
“Many service members don’t talk about their service like my uncle,” said Lori Balke. “He just told me and the other members of the family that all those years ago he was trained to deploy the atomic bomb. That is just incredible to me and as I was telling someone about it he said “think about our service members who have been carrying the secrets and valor of the nation for so long.”
Oltmans was wrapped in his quilt by two grandsons that are currently active in the Army National Guard and the Air Force.
Oltmans said “I’m honored, but I don’t deserve this anymore than any other Veteran.”