KOFA Veteran Receives Quilt
by Kevin G Andrade, Yuma Sun
Photos courtesy Kevin G Andrade, Wendy Rose & Marilee Downing
Posted August 21, 2015

Holding the Quilt

John Lima, a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge and the son of Portuguese immigrants from the Azores, holds his quilt for his neighbors to see at Kofa Ko-Op Retreat. 

Quilt Presentation

John Lima is presented the QOV Quilt by Terry Burchell

Quilt Displayed

Terry Burchell along with its recipient, John Lima display the handmade QOV quilt
John Dewitt, a retired sergeant major in the U.S. Marine Corps, did not expect this on his 39th wedding anniversary.

"He's a Marine," said Almina DeWitt, his wife. "He spent 30 years in the Marine Corps and once a Marine, always a Marine. "He's a good man, an awesome man," she continued.

DeWitt, along with two other veterans who work for the Arizona Department of Economic Security in Yuma, Milton Hawkins, retired from the Marine Corps, and Lorena Garcia, retired from the Navy, were given quilts by the Quilts of Valor Foundation (QOV) on Friday.

"We live in Oro Valley but we were told that there were some veterans here deserving of a quilt of valor," said Terry Burtchell, the Tucson group leader of QOV. "It is our way of saying thank you."

Quilts of Valor was started to offer a gift of thanks to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. It has since spread to all 50 states and veterans from all conflicts. According to the organization, it has distributed almost 123,000 since the groups inception.

"It is so beautiful to be recognized like this," said Garcia in Spanish. "There is a price for service, and the people with whom I work recognize that."

"It's a very patriotic pattern on the quilt," said DeWitt. "I can see the support in it."

After the ceremony at DES, there was another at the Kofa Ko-Op Retreat for 90-year-old World War II veteran John Lima.

Lima's war-time experiences include being besieged at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, and being one of the first three Allied soldiers to cross the bridge at Remagen, the last remaining bridge over the Rhine into Germany at the time. 

"I had wet feet at the beginning of my time," said Lima. "Everybody wanted to shoot at you. They didn't particularly like us there (in Europe) during the war," he continued. "Afterwards, they did."

Lima said that he was wounded during his service and that doctors said there is still metal inside of him today from his stint in active duty.

"I got shot at a couple of times over there," he said. "When my kids were little, they'd point to a medal and ask me, 'Daddy, what's that medal for?' and I'd say 'It's for shooting at someone.'
"Then they'd point to another and say, 'What about that one?'" he continued, "and I'd say, 'It's for getting shot at by someone.'"

For all that he has been through, he said that the quilt was something that he appreciates.

"It's very pretty and looks like a lot of work," said Lima. "I feel real good and very honored that they would give me that.  "Not too bad for an old campezinho (Portuguese for peasant)," he continued.

There are 10 quilting teams in Arizona, but none in Yuma. For more information on how to work with Quilts of Valor, or to recommend a veteran for a quilt, email Terry Burtchell at terry.burtchell@qovf.org.

The KOFA Ko-op After-Party

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Present: John Lima, Bob & Marsha Philips , Bob & Fran Torgler, Ken & Wendy Rose, Dale & Gail Brown, Marilee & Howard Downing,
Janet Godbey, Gord Barrager, Bonnie Peifer, Pat Staeck, Betty LaBrecque, Lee Cook & Kevin Andrade..

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