Ask any quilter about the time and personal effort that go into creating a quilt and the answer will be from something whimsical to something intensely meaningful. Whether handcrafted or done with a machine, many hours are involved; hundreds in some cases. When the Quilts of Valor Foundation was established in 2003, it was born of a desire to, “..see that returning troops were welcomed home with love and gratitude..” . The sentiment was widely shared as word spread and quilters across the nation became involved.
The Miami Ocean Waves Quilting Guild was one such group and quite a few members have veteran connections. Joyce Cotner, military wife of a career Air Force officer, and Charlotte DeOgborn, retired Colonel with twenty-six years as an Air Force nurse, are also members of the local chapter of Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). Four years ago, deciding to dedicate the MOAA May luncheon to presentation of Quilts of Valor was a natural combination. Units at Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB) are invited to select a recipient, and other veterans are nominated by individuals or veteran groups throughout the year. The criteria for selection is to have been, “touched by war”, and to date recipients have been veterans of World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and on-going combat deployments since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan in 2001 with Operation Enduring Freedom.
On May 9, 2019, several members of the 482d Fighter Wing Security Forces Squadron (SFS) joined their First Sergeant, Senior Master Sergeant Ana Barbosa, at HARB to attend the presentation where Technical Sergeant Henry Delvalle was to be honored. Barbosa took a few moments to light-heartedly talk about Delvalle’s high standards he expected everyone to adhere to and then his commitment to caring for and supporting his
subordinates and co-workers. Even though his actions in Iraq were prior to his current assignment, many were aware of why he received a Purple Heart when he was wounded in action on April 29, 2004. He was part of a tactical movement team that provided convoy security and they were coming back from a re-supply mission for the 1st Marines. As the convoy rolled through a town, they came under enemy fire. Delvalle’s vehicle was blown up, and he lost his battle buddy and the driver of the second vehicle. His wounds from bullets and shrapnel required nine months of hospitalization and treatment.
As Cotner handed Delvalle the quilt she said, “This is a lifetime award stitched with love, prayers, and healing thoughts.” She also explained the Ocean Waves Guild provides quilts that are often sent on to other organizations and the quilters don’t have the opportunity to meet the honorees. The personal presentation is especially nice to, “have a face to the quilt.”
For Devalle, accepting the quilt was deeply significant. “I am truly humbled as this is the anniversary of the attack. There were seven killed and thirty wounded. This means a lot to me.”
Devalle’s career is somewhat unique in that he joined the Navy Seabees in 1993 and after recovering from his wounds, he finished in 2007. He subsequently signed on with the Everglades National Park as a Wildland Firefighter. In missing the military, however, he joined the Air Force Reserves in 2009 with this advice, “If the military is something you want to do, stay in it and understand you can only get out of it what you put into it.”His wife, Maidelyn, knows what it’s like to manage their blended family of four children when her husband is deployed.
To learn more go to www.QOVF.org