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Port Orange Observer Tuesday, May 15, 2018 10 months ago

Korean War, World War II veterans honored for their service by Quilts of Valor

The quilts were presented by Terry Burtchell of the Volusia County Quilts of Valor Foundation.
by: Nichole Osinski Community Editor

Gilbert "Chuck" Melanson was one of 13 children of Pierre and Emeline Melanson, first generation immigrants from Canada. Melanson grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts and worked in his father's store before ensiling in the Army in 1951 during the Korean War. 

While serving on the front lines Melanson was injured and later received two Purple Hearts. Melanson was honorably discharged from the military in 1953. In addition to his Purple Hearts, the 95-year-old received a Combat Infantry Badge, Korean Service Medal with three bronze service stars and a United Nations Service Medal. 

But Melanson received a different kind of award on Saturday, May 5, when Terry Burtchell, Volusia County Quilts of Valor Foundation group leader, visited the veteran at his nursing home. Burtchell presented Melanson with a large quilt that was created the same way other quilts awarded to veterans had been made: red, white and blue and with the name of the veteran and the dates of military service sewn into the fabric. 

However, each veteran's quilt has had its own unique look and Melanson's was no different. 

The same day Melanson received his quilt, Burtchell went to visit 98-year-old Walter "Bill" Burkhalter, a World War II veteran. Burkhalter also received his own quilt, which was laid over his lap as he sat in his chair. 

Burkhalter served in the Marines from 1940 to 1945 before joining the Air Force where he served from 1951 to 1966. 

And the day was about more than just awarded two quilts, it was about listening to the veterans who Burtchell called "amazing heroes to sit down and talk to."

QOVF is still in need of quilters and donations to purchase fabric. The group meets the first Tuesday of each month at the Port Orange Library to quilt for veterans. 



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