By Sonny Jones
Bladen County military veterans Bobby Ludlum and Amanda Smith-Abbey received Quilts of Valor on Saturday afternoon inside the VFW Post 8062 building in Elizabethtown.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation’s mission is to honor service members and veterans who have been touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. As of March, the organization has awarded more than 343,000 quilts nationwide since the program began in 2003.
“What you are doing is fantastic,” Ludlum told Sharon Bormann, who represented Quilts of Valor for the presentation. “I will be eternally grateful.”
Ludlum served 30 years in the Air Force and retired in 1991. A Vietnam veteran, the Bladenboro resident was stationed at Ton Son Nhut Air Base and Cam Ranh Bay. He had additional assignments at Kunsan Air Base and Kwangji Air Base, South Korea and Ubon RTAB, Thailand. He also spent time in Egypt, France, Amsterdam as well as bases in the United States.
Ludlum was assigned to the 9th Air Force headquarters with B-58s, F-4s and F-16s.
Ludlum told the approximate 25 people in attendance that military service is more appreciated now compared to when he returned from Vietnam.
“When we came out of the main gate at Travis Air Force Base we got peppered with eggs and rotten tomatoes,” Ludlum said. “I thank the good Lord that veterans are being treated better. When we pass out poppies twice a year at Walmart and Tractor Supply (in Elizabethtown), it’s wonderful to see how people respond.”
Smith-Abbey, who lives in Elizabethtown, served in the Army from 1990-98. Her duty stations included Yongsan and Camp Red Cloud, Korea, Somalia, Fort Drum, New York and Fort Bragg. She was deployed along the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea.
“Thank God I’m here,” Smith-Abbey said. “I keep telling my friends and family I don’t feel worthy.
“I joined right out of high school, but the military really wasn’t my plan. I was planning to go to college, but my aunt talked me into it. I truly thank George (Rollinson) for nominating me. I’m glad to be a member of Post 8062.”
Rollinson also nominated Ludlum.
According to the Quilts of Valor Foundation, Catherine Roberts, a quilter and Blue Star Mom whose son was deployed to Iraq, had a dream where she saw her son and his fellow comrades wrapped in quilts, being comforted from the ravages of war.
With that vision and the help of a few fellow quilters, Roberts began sewing in her living room. The first Quilt of Valor was awarded to an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran in November 2003. There now are QOV chapters in all 50 states, including in Mooresville, North Carolina.
For more information about Quilts of Valor, visit www.QOVF.org.