Father and son awarded Quilts of Valor

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Father and son Gary (right) and Tony Brooks were both awarded Quilts of Valor over the weekend. Following the presentation, they were joined by family members, including (left to right) Kim, Lili and Ryne Brooks, Joanne Brooks and Bobbi Jo, Scott and Ellie Gillitzer. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

The number of Quilts of Valor awarded to service members and veterans touched by war grew by two, to over 144,000, over the weekend, when father and son Gary and Tony Brooks received quilts. 

The quilts were awarded at the Brooks family reunion, held in McGregor’s Turner Park, by Lanny and Wendy Kuhse, of Garnavillo. Gary and Tony were nominated by Gary’s sister, Cheri Leachman, a veteran herself. 

The Quilts of Valor organization began in 2003, when quilter and blue star mother Catherine Roberts came up with the idea of using quilts to comfort veterans while her son was deployed in Iraq. Since then, thousands of quilts have been awarded around the country, thanks to local volunteers.

Of the thousands of quilts given to American service men and women, no two are the same. There is no set pattern or color scheme, although patriotic themes, with red, white and blue, are most often incorporated.

“Thousands work daily to cover those touched by war,” Wendy Kuhse said, noting that the Quilts of Valor are meant to “comfort and remind [service members] that they are in our thoughts and prayers. It says thank you for your service and sacrifice.”

Gary, an Air Force veteran, began his military career in 1970, during the Vietnam War. Retiring in 1993, his duties included procurement, meaning he made sure each unit had what it needed.

Tony’s military career started in 1995, with the Army’s security police. Today, he’s a brigade operations NCO E-7—staff sergeant first class.

Both father and son were touched, and surprised, to be honored together. While Gary, prior to the presentation, knew he was going to receive a Quilt of Valor, neither he nor Tony were aware Tony was going to be awarded a quilt as well.

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