4 veterans recognized with Quilts of Valor in ceremony

Published 4:13 pm Friday, July 21, 2023

The Albert Lea American Legion Post 56 recognized four individuals with Quilts of Valor Friday afternoon. Quilts of Valor are presented to veterans for their sacrifice to the country during a time of need.

“The mission is to honor service members and veterans who have been touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor,” said Beth Birch, president of Post 56 Auxiliary. “This Quilt of Valor unequivocally says ’Thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor in serving our nation.”

Lynda Harig, a member of the Auxiliary and quilter; Ole Olson, commander of Albert Lea American Legion Post 56; and Tom Norby presented the quilts.

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Robert Dammen served from 1954-’55 in the United States Army. He worked in communications as a high-speed radio operator and also worked in communications in Germany. After his service, Dammen worked at Prudential Finance Upper Midwest, First Federal Savings & Loan, Twin Cities Federal and Minnesota Valley Savings.

“We consider it a privilege to honor you,” Harig said. “This quilt was made for you out of admiration and respect for what you’ve done for your country.”

Following the ceremony, Dammen called it an honor.

“It’s such a wonderful thing for the Legion to do and recognize the things that happened yesterday,” he said.

Donald Ehrich was in the United States Army from 1954-’55. He was stationed in Germany. After his service he taught for 35 years.

“We salute you and thank you for your service and sacrifice,” Harig said.

Dwayne Hagen served from 1952-’54 in the Army. He served in Korea.

“I accept this quilt with great respect for not only for the people that make them, but also for the people that supported this and supported the fighting men and women of the United States of America,” he said.

Hagen felt it was appropriate to be honored, as many of them volunteered.

And while he didn’t volunteer, he did believe in having a free democracy.

“We’ve so far done that real well, and I think with the help of a lot of people here who were never in the Army or service, that they are actually a great part of this country,” he said. “I want to thank the ones that think of these things and honor the veterans.”

His son, James, was at the ceremony.

“He’s a great guy all-around,” he said, referring to his father. “It’s just well-deserving. I wish there was more things out there for veterans and stuff like that.”

Philip Johnson served from 1952-’56 and was stationed in Kunsan, Korea, as an aircraft mechanic. After being discharged he worked at Queen Stove in Albert Lea.

Marjoria, Johnson’s wife, admitted she was surprised upon learning Philip was being recognized, but admitted it was an honor for him to receive the quilt.

“Our daughter is in the Auxiliary, and she kind of pushed it more than I did,” she said, referring to Jean.

All four served in the Korean War.

Quilts of Valor were started in 2003 after the son of quilter Catherine Roberts was deployed in Iraq. Over 343,000 quilts have been awarded.