HAMLET — Military service runs in the family for William Lunceford.
Lunceford served, as did his late father, Richard Lunceford, and grandfather, Calvin Gibson.
All three were among several Richmond County veterans honored with Quilts of Valor Wednesday at the Hamlet Senior Center.
Quilts of Valor are handmade and are “gifted to veterans who are touched by war,” as a thank you for their service and sacrifice, according to Senior Center Activities Coordinator Chadlin Brooks.
“Receiving one of these quilts is a very high honor and they are very prideful,” Brooks said.
Karen Marshall and several other representatives from Quilts of Valor were on hand for the presentation.
Marshall said the quilts were handmade by the Sandhills Quilters Guild “as a small token from our grateful hearts for the service you have rendered to America.”
“While some may never meet you, you were on their mind as they pieced and quilted these gifts of love for you,” Marshall continued.
According to Marshall, the Quilts of Valor is a grassroots group of thousands of quilters across the country, with a mission to cover all combat veterans with quilts to honor them “for all they’ve done for us.”
Since the group was founded in 2003, Marshall said more than 351,000 quilts have been presented to active service members and veterans.
Marshall said the quilts bring a three-part message:
“First, we honor you for your service, for your willingness to leave all you hold dear and to stand in harm’s way in time of crisis.
“Second, we know that freedom is never free, and our quilts are meant to say, ‘Thank you for your many sacrifices.’
“And finally, these quilts are for your comfort. This is our quilty hug to you. As we sew, we hope our gratitude and caring will flow from our hearts through our hands into the quilt and eventually surround you with warmth and love.
“Quilters say that every quilt tells a story,” Marshall continued. “The story of these quilts began here in the Sandhills by quilters who share your love of country … As of today, the story of these quilts becomes your story.”
According to the short bio read by Brooks, Lunceford joined the Army National Guard after 9/11 and served two tours in Iraq and one each in Kuwait and Afghanistan.
While in the Army, Richard Lunceford was stationed in Germany and Fort Riley, Kansas. Gibson served during the Korean War and was stationed at Fort Bragg (now named Fort Liberty).
Lunceford was presented with a full quilt and family members were given squares for Richard Lunceford and Gibson.
The veterans were joined by family, members of several local veterans organizations (including VFW Post 4203, AMVETS Post 316 and American Legion Post 147), and representatives from the Hamlet Police Department, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and N.C. State Highway Patrol. The Hamlet Fire Department also employed its ladder truck to hang a large U.S. flag near the senior center.
Other veterans honored were:
Carolyn Lawson – U.S. Army (1968-1970, 1986-2009 ), U.S. Air Force (1980-1984) Trained as a field medic and had additional training outside the military.
Gerald Sellers – U.S. Air Force (1965-1971) Ordered parts for planes during the Vietnam War.
Eddie Dean – Army National Guard (40 years) Served one tour each in Afghanistan and Iraq, clearing 300 roadside bombs with crew during one tour
Timothy Grooms – U.S. Army, U.S. Navy – Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Operation Iraqi Freedom – Helped recover space shuttle off Georgia coast, cleared roadside IEDs.
The late R.J. Hewitt was gifted a quilt in 2020. Click here to read that story.
“We hope you will keep them with you as a tangible reminder,” Marshall said, “that there are thousands of women and men across this land who know that we are forever in your debt.”