World War II vets receive ‘Quilts of Valor’

Published 9:37 am Thursday, January 26, 2017

Members of the Mocksville Woman’s Club on Jan. 11 recognized three Davie World War II veterans.

Harold Frank, J.B. Caldwell and John Caudle were recognized for their service to the nation and were awarded quilts from the Quilts of Valor Foundation.

Quilts of Valor is a national, non-profit foundation comprised of volunteers whose mission is to make and present quilts to active and retired service personnel who have been touched by war.

Each member of this organization works in some fashion to provide handmade quilts for each person honored. The organization began in 2003 with the actions of one mother who was a quilter.

Catherine Roberts’ son was stationed in Iraq during the war. Although she sent him mail and packages from home, she felt it her duty to do more. She decided that her skill, quiltmaking, was one that could bring comfort to military service personnel.  Through her friendship with the chief chaplain assigned to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., she made the first quilt and presented it to a young wounded soldier recuperating in Walter Reed.

Catherine Roberts developed a program in conjunction with chaplains at major military hospitals to present quilts to soldiers. Her idea spread beyond her friends and members of local quilt guilds into the national organization it is today.  Currently, The Quilts of Valor Foundation has chapters in all fifty states and at many military installations overseas. QOVF has awarded over 151,000 quilts.   

Susan Parker, chair of the All American Chapter of QOV, traveled from Fayetteville to preside over the program and present quilts to Davie’s World War II veterans. Tom Brokaw called the generation who fought for our nation during World War II, the “Greatest Generation.” They were born during the Great Depression, fought in the biggest war of the 20th century, and returned to the United States to pick up their lives and make the United States the world power it is today.

Harold Frank served in the army, the 69th Infantry.  He jokingly observed during the program that he toured Germany by foot. He participated in the D-Day invasion. He was captured and remained a prisoner of war for 11 months.

During his captivity, Mr. Frank said he was able to stay alive by making a slingshot which he used to kill rabbits and other small animals. He would then put the dead animal inside his clothes until he returned to camp. There the animal would be skinned and made into a stew or soup.

When Frank returned home, he was hospitalized for 11 months so his body could relearn how to eat effectively. One shining moment in his life was when Mr. Frank was awarded the Legion of Honor by the ambassador to France. This medal is the highest honor France bestows on civilians.

John Caudle was in the Air Force. He lied about his age and volunteered at 17 to become a member of the Aviation Cadet Program.  He served as a member of the atomic bomb group as a tail gunner aboard a bomber.  He flew over Yokohama prior to the dropping of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Caudle said the anti-aircraft fire was so thick, it sounded like hail hitting his plane. When he returned from the Yokohama mission, Caudle left the plane, looked up, and saw a huge chunk of plane missing about 20 inches from where his head had been in the plane.

J.B. Caldwell was in the Army Air Corps. He was a nose gunner aboard a B-24 aircraft named the “Cocky Bobby.” He was based in China and flew the China-Burma-India route during the war.  Mr. Caudle said that many times on his many bombing missions, he felt he was one step from meeting his maker.

Presenting these men with their quilts is a reminder to them of the appreciation Americans have for their valor and bravery during a traumatic period of history for Americans.

The club was proud for its part in honoring veterans of Davie County.