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Five North Platte veterans awarded Quilts of Valor

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Five North Platte veterans received Quilts of Valor for their military service. Each veteran’s life has been touched by war. The quilts awarded to them are intended to provide comfort and express gratitude.

Quilt of Valor recipient Lawrence Mora Jr. enlisted in the U.S. Navy on July 23, 1985. Mora attended boot camp at the Naval Training Center in San Diego, California. After boot camp, he attended Radioman school. He graduated from Radioman school in January of 1986. He was stationed at Naval Communications Detachment at Whidbey Island, Washington until 1989. Mora re-enlisted that same year and received orders to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He reported for duty on the USS Oullette FF 1077 and served from 1989 to 1993. While onboard, he served in Desert Storm/Desert Shield. He was on the crew that decommissioned the USS Ouellet on August 6, 1993. Mora extended his enlistment in 1993 and was stationed at Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity at Pearl Harbor. Mora received multiple honors including a national defense service medal, enlisted surface warfare specialist, and two sea service deployment ribbons.

Quilt of Valor recipient Thomas E. Rivera served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1969. He was drafted into the U.S. Army Infantry at the age of 21. He received his basic training at Fort Bliss in Texas. His Airborne Infantry training took place at Fort Gordon in Georgia and his Jump School training at Fort Bennington. It was at Fort Bennington that 101st Airborne. He was deployed to the Central Highlands of Vietnam and served one year with the 173rd Airborne. He was an M60 machine gunner and was the lead gunner. Rivera received an Air medal for his twenty-five aerial combat assaults. He was awarded a Sharpshooter medal and Combat Infantry badge.

“I feel honored and blessed with all my family here,” said Quilt of Valor recipient Thomas Rivera. “A lot of us don’t realize the freedoms that we have until it’s gone. I hope that day never comes.”

The quilts awarded through the Quilt of Valor organization can be recognized as civilian purple hearts. This is a way to provide comfort and recognition for veterans.

“It is just quite humbling. That is about all I can say,” said Quilt of Valor recipient Charles Lynch.

Quilt of Valor recipient Charles Lynch enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1969 and served a three-year stint until 1972. He attended basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington, and received advanced training at Fort Still, Oklahoma. Lynch was sent to Vietnam from 1969 to 1970. He served in the Fourth Infantry Division on an airmobile helicopter unit and their job was to secure and hold new landing zones for more troops to come, or act as decoys to draw out the Vietnamese. He was involved in the Sanctuary Counteroffensive and the Counteroffensive Phase 7 war campaigns. Lynch became a Sgt. E-5 during his first six months in the country. During his time, Lynch received many honors including Vietnam service and campaign medals, the National Defense Medal, and four army commendation medals.

Each quilt takes 2 to 4 days to make, but that time does not equate to the sacrifice veterans have given to our nation.

Quilt of Valor recipient Raymond Hansen served in the U.S. Navy from 1971 to 1991. He first served during the Vietnam War era and attended boot camp in San Diego. From 1971 to 1974, Ray was stationed at the Naval Amphibian Base in Coronado, California. He spent two years on the USS Dixie AD14. From 1976 to 1980, he was aboard the USS Peterson DD969. Hansen’s next tour was at the Naval Air Station in Fort Smith, Virginia from 1980 to 1983 and then aboard the USS Deluch LPD6 from 1986 to 1989. He ended his Navy career at the Naval Amphibian Base in Coronado, California. Hansen served two tours in Iraq and served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Hansen was named a “Shellback,” which means he is a sailor who has sailed across the equator.

Quilt of Valor recipient Paul Shaner joined the U.S. Army in 1969 at the age of seventeen. He attended basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington. He then went to AIT in Fort Ord, California to train as a 63B twenty-wheel vehicle mechanic. After his training, he went to Bamberg, Germany, where he made the rank of Spec 4. In December of 1970, Shaner went to the DMZ in Vietnam for more advanced training and worked in the motor pool. Shaner was promoted to E5 and spent his last six months on Firebases. One of his jobs was to communicate with FDC on fire missions and coordinate for artillery support. After discharge from the Army, Shaner served in the Army National Guard in North Platte.

“It has been a long time coming. This is the welcome home that we never got when we came home,” said Quilt of Valor recipient Paul Shaner. “We were asked to change into our civilian clothes before we got out of the airport because of the protestors. None of us wanted to get spit on so we all changed. Here we are, today, finally getting the recognition that we always deserved.”