Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 18, 2018

Three residents of Van Vorhies Haus honored with Quilt of Valor

Quilt recipients share memories from service in WWII and Korean War
Dec 18, 2017
Photo by: Grace King Left to right: Philip Crawford, Philip “Albert” Rich, and Quinten Fackler proudly display the quilts given to them by the Quilt of Valor Foundation for their service in World War II and the Korean War.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Philip “Albert” Rich keeps his Quilt of Valor at the end of his bed. It covers his feet when he gets cold, and at 85-years-old, he said he gets cold quite often.

Sitting alongside fellow Quilt of Honor recipients Philip Crawford and Quinten Fackler, Rich talked about the honor of receiving a quilt from the Quilt of Valor Foundation. All three men, who are residents of the Van Vorhies Haus, have received the honor in the past year. They held their quilts, neatly folded, on their laps as they reminisced about their service.

“I’m proud of it. I done my duty like everyone else did,” Rich said as he brushed his hand across the fabric of his quilt.

Rich was stationed in Germany during the Korean War from February of 1952 to February of 1954. Rich went through basic training with a first cousin who was two days older than him.

“I wanted to be a mechanic because that’s what I was doing before,” Rich said. “But they said no, I was going to be a radar operator, so I went to school for that.” Rich learned how to pick up an airplane on the radar “All it was was a little dot on the screen there.”

When Rich returned from Germany and his cousin returned from Korea, Rich said his cousin wouldn’t speak to him.

“I finally asked him, ‘What’s the matter,’” Rich recalled saying.

His cousin insisted that it wasn’t right. “I had to go to Korea and you got to go to Germany,” his cousin said.

Rich reminded him he didn’t have anything to do with where each of them were sent during the Korean War. Even so, “he very seldom would ever speak to me,” Rich said. “I didn’t have to go into battle and he did. He was just that way.”

Years before Rich served as a radar operator, his brother was drafted in World War II serving in the 101 Airborne Division.

“I’ll tell you some of these guys in World War II have seen a lot of things happen,” Rich said, speaking of his brother, Donald Rich, as well as Crawford and Fackler.

Rich said that his brother, Donald, didn’t speak often about his service, but one day he talked about how he was trained to shoot children to keep them from killing soldiers with hand grenades.

“They would take a hand grenade and come at them and blow themselves up and you,” Rich said. “So (World War II veterans) have all been through a lot.”

“We were peaceful-minded people caught up in a war,” Crawford said slowly, as he began to talk about his service in World War II. “One of the worst things I saw was Dachau concentration camp. It was terrible.” Crawford took a long pause as he struggled to compose himself. “It was atrocious how they treated people,” he finally said.

Crawford said that receiving the Quilt of Valor means a great deal to him and to his family. “It’s something my family can appreciate,” he said.

When asked about his quilt, Fackler proudly said that the colors showcase every rank of the army. Although at first he said at 99-years-old he didn’t remember much about his service, he slowly launched into a soliloquy on the history of his unit serving with the 102nd Field Artillery Batallion.

Fackler said he went into battle about three weeks after D-Day, and his division traveled across Northern France. By the time they arrived, it was the middle of winter. His division was supposed to be “given a break.”

“Our break turned out to be waken up in the middle of the night. That was the Battle of the Bulge,” he said.

“We had no tanks. We had no guns. We had no riffles, and we were supposed to be equipped with rifles,” Fackler said. “We had no airplanes to use. That’s how sad this country was in when that war started.

“We had a Navy that didn’t have enough battleships,” he continued. “They blew them all up in Pearl Harbor. We were in total despair in this country.”

Fackler said when he was in Europe, the men were wearing German boots they would take off dead soldiers because the U.S. Army didn’t have enough of their own.

“This is the way the U.S. went into the war,” Fackler said. “We had to fight with one hand behind our back for everything.”

“But we made it,” Rich interjected with pride and enthusiasm.

As Fackler fell silent, Rich took up his brothers’ story again, saying he was nine- or ten-years-old when Donald was drafted. He was scared for him, Rich said, talking about the long stretches of time they would go without hearing a word from him.

Donald befriended a couple in England where he was stationed, whom would frequently stay with on the weekends. “He wrote home once that they had six hens and they all feasted on eggs for breakfast,” Rich said.

This started a friendship between the two families. Rich’s family in the U.S. would send the family in England boxes of food and clothes for the children. “I remember fixing up great big boxes of canned food to send over there and clothes for the kids because people didn’t have nothing,” he said.

The three men grew silent again, lost in their memories when Fackler said, “Remember Rosie the Riveter? They made a song out of that. Rosie the Riveter,” he repeated melodically.

“It took a war to show what women could do,” Rich said.

“You look at it now, they do a better job than we do,” Fackler said with a chuckle.

When World War II was over, Crawford farmed the land, living just north of Olds. When The Korean War was over, Rich returned to Henry County, working for Henry County Maintenance for 28 years.

Crawford said returning home was great, but took some time to get used to.

Yeah, Rich said, it took some time “not having someone yelling for you to do this or that,” he said with a smirk.

“I’m glad I did go, though,” Crawford said quietly.

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