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Quilts of Valor chapter honors five local veterans

The Hazleton Area Chapter of Quilts of Valor was pleased to honor, for the first time at the same time, five local veterans.

A beautiful autumn day at the VFW Post 5069 in New Ringgold was the perfect backdrop to honor this group of veterans who served their country, our country.

A Quilt of Valor was presented to each veteran by Marie Shulenski, the group leader of the local chapter of the foundation. These quilts are made as an expression of gratitude meant to thank and comfort our veterans. They are honored for leaving all they hold dear to serve, whether in time of crisis or in time of peace. It unequivocally says, “Thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor in serving our nation.”

Machinist Mate 3rd Class Ernie Daubenspeck was the first honoree. He served in the U.S. Navy Active Reserves from 1960-1962 and then during the Cuban missile crisis from 1962-1966. He was stationed in Rhode Island and Key West, Florida. He served on the USS Protector ACR-11 while maintaining main propulsion equipment and refrigeration. He was awarded the Cuban missile crisis Ribbon.

Honoree Spc. 4th Class Nevin Fritz served in the U.S. Army from 1968-1969. He served with Company B 9th Support Battalion, 198th Infantry. His location in 1969 was the 723rd Maintenance Battalion, American Division Support Command in South Vietnam. While serving there, he was responsible for maintenance and was a power equipment operator. He received the National Defense Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal; Vietnam Combat Medal; 2 Overseas Bars; Army Commendation Medal in 1968 and 1969; SPS M-14 Rifle Badge and was the recipient of the Vietnam Military Operations against Hostile Forces Award.

Maj. Randall (Randy) Fritz served in the U.S. Army/Air Force from 1978-2017 during the Cold War, Persian Gulf War, and the Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. His duty stations included Travis Air Force Base; Dover Air Force Base; Fort Bliss; Fort Belvoir; Fort Drum and Fort Indiantown Gap. His many jobs included Company Commander; Operating Room RN; Air Defense Platoon Leader and Executive Officer. Fritz was awarded the Afghan Service Medal and the Army Meritorious Service Medal. Fritz also noted that his 38-year career spanned seven presidents, from Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump.

Also honored was Cpl. Donald Hoppes, having served in the U.S. Army from 1966-1968. Serving at CDL in Paris, France and Baumholden, Germany, Hoppes was a truck and tank mechanic.

Sgt. Eugene Schaffer patiently served with the U.S. Army from 1969-1971. He served in locations here in the U.S. and Vietnam. He was a combat engineer and served as a squad leader. Schaffer worked on Highway 20 and pulled security. On the Vietnam border he served 2 Corps and 3 Corps in Company B 169th, 159th, and 20th Combat Engineers. He was awarded the Vietnam Combat Ribbon.

The quilts presented to these veterans were all pieced, quilted and bound by Tammy Dean. This presentation was a family affair for Tammy. She is cousin to Daubenspeck, Randall Fritz, Hoppes, Schaffer and the niece of Nevin Fritz. Tammy put heart and soul into these quilts and the appreciation and love her family had for her that day was overwhelming. Her grandmother taught her to quilt and being able to do this for her family members was heartwarming.

The Quilts of Valor foundation is a nonprofit organization.

For further information about the organization or to donate contact mshulenski@yahoo.com.

From left, Marie Shulenski, group leader of the Hazleton Area Chapter of Quilts of Valor, Ernie Daubenspeck, Nevin Fritz, Randall Fritz, Donald Hoppes, Eugene Schaffer and Tammy Dean, quilter and family member. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO