Four area veterans given Quilts of Valor in ceremony

Published 7:11 pm Friday, May 19, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Four veterans received Quilts of Valor at the Albert Lea American Legion Post 56 Friday afternoon: Roger Lonning, Richard Anderson, Clark Hammer and Donald DeSart.

“The Quilt of Valor unequivocally says, ’Thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor in serving our nation,” said Jo Hanson, president of Post 56.

Anderson served in the Navy from 1967 to ’73, with his basic training in San Diego.

Email newsletter signup

He served shore patrol at the Naval Air Station in Kingsville, Texas.

After returning from service, he worked at Queens/King Seely Thermos, Enders Tools and Lou-Rich.

Anderson admitted he was surprised to learn he received a quilt, but was proud to receive it.

“I’m very proud of him,” said David Anderson, who was on hand for the ceremony, about his father. “He had a hard job.”

DeSart served in the Marines and Army from 1952 to ’57 and completed his basic training at the Naval Air Force Base in Minneapolis and at Fort Chafee, Arkansas.

While serving, DeSart maintained and repaired basic aircraft.

After serving he worked on a farm in Welcome.

“I was surprised,” DeSart said after learning he would receive a quilt, adding that he felt he earned it and was glad to serve.

DeSart has been a member of the American Legion for over 40 years.

“I’m just an ordinary guy that did my thing,” he said when receiving his quilt.

“Quilts of Valor Foundation wishes to recognize your service to our nation,” said Linda Haring, who made the quilt. “We consider it a privilege to honor you.”

Hammer served in the Navy, with his basic training in Chicago. Hammer served in Norman, Oklahoma; Memphis, Tennessee; and Norfolk, Virginia, among others.

“You got around,” Hanson said.

After serving, he worked at Remington Rand, where he helped build the first supercomputer. He also worked for Dick Dickma installing curbs and gutters, Wilson & Co., REA and Interstate Power.

“I’m glad I served,” he said, noting he was happy to be back in Albert Lea.

“This quilt is made out of admiration and respect for what you’ve done for your country,” Haring said.

Lonning served in the Navy from 1945 to ’49, and then in the Navy Reserves from 1951 to ’52. He did his basic training in San Diego.

While in the Navy he was on the USS Starlite and was deployed to Japan, where he brought soldiers back from areas in the Pacific.

After discharge, he graduated from college and was a school librarian in Clarion, Iowa. In 1957 he moved to Albert Lea and taught sixth grade for four years before becoming a librarian for almost three decades.

“When I got into the service and spent four years, got out,” he said. “Then got called into the Korean War back in the time that I had decided that I had enough of the service, I’ve had enough of the living.

“An angel came and saved my life because as I was going to Japan I had every indication of going overboard. But I am so thankful the good Lord said, ‘Try Albert Lea, you will like it.’”

Quilts of Valor started in 2003, after Catherine Roberts started the movement after her son was deployed in Iraq. According to a press release, since that time over 343,000 quilts have been awarded, with the mission of honoring service members and veterans who have been touched by war.