Following the traditional Veteran’s Day ceremony at the War Memorial in Woodstock Cemetery on Monday, November 11, local veterans — and a few who had come many miles to honor a fallen combat brother — gathered, along with friends and family at American Legion Post 1026 to unveil a sumptuous, colorful 8-foot tall quilt honoring Sgt. Richard Quinn, a medic, the lone Woodstocker who lost his life in the Vietnam war in 1970.
“After a year of research, consultation and embroidery, and hours of quilting by my friend Brenda Taylor, we’re here to present this quilt to you,” said Sergeant Jay Selby, who served with Quinn in Vietnam and traveled to Woodstock from Chandler, Texas, for the ceremony. “I didn’t know Richard as you did. You knew him as a brother, an uncle and as a friend. We knew him as Doc, as a quiet, mild mannered dedicated qualified man.”
Selby had heard about last year’s Woodstock ceremony renaming Hillcrest Avenue for Sgt. Richard Quinn from his friend, fellow vet Donald Ketcham of Jackson, Michigan, who had attended. The research into Quinn’s story was done by Fern Makine-Falvey, who found Ed Nored, a member of the unit who kept a daily diary in Vietnam and who put her in touch with Ketcham. That led to Selby and Robert Angle, from Sacramento, another member of the unit, who was also present at the unveiling.
The quilt, all hand embroidered, contains, along with Quinn’s portrait, representations of the long list of medals awarded to him, including Combat Medical Badge; Distinguished Service Cross, for extreme gallantry (the second highest medal given to American soldiers in combat); Bronze Star, for heroic service in a combat zone; Purple Heart, awarded for those wounded or killed in action; Air Medal; Good Conduct Medal (“We got one, and we sure don’t know why…” joked Selby; Vietnam Service medal; Vietnam Civil Action Award; Vietnam Campaign Medal from South Vietnam. Also listed on the quilt are Quinn’s family, friends and those with whom he served.
“Doc was highly regarded among the men in our company, we could not have asked for a better medic or a better brother,” said Selby, before unveiling the work of art. “All the young boys turned into young men, and the young men turned into heroes. I would like you to accept this quilt from Company D, First Air Cav in honor of our friend and brother Doc Quinn.”
Earlier in the day, at the Cemetery, after Don Haberski and his granddaughter, Katelyn (who was also celebrating her birthday) sang the National Anthem, Terry Breitenstein conducted the memorial service, and read John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Field, dedicated to Carl VanWagnen, who, for years, had read it each year at Veteran’s Day, but recently passed away.
Town supervisor Bill McKenna reminded those gathered not to forget the Veterans during the rest of the year. County legislator Jon Heppner implored “I hope that one day I might speak to you in a time of total peace.”
Town Historian Richard Heppner advised us to “look around at the graves and flags…the grave stones tell stories…” and spoke of Elias Hasbrouck, Woodstock’s first Town Supervisor in 1787, fighting in the Revolution, and of the Civil War vets, all gathered on a hill at the Cemetery. “Woodstock’s young men and women always answered the call,” said Heppner. “God bless our veterans, and if he’s got the time, may God bless Woodstock.”
Breitenstein closed the Ceremony. “Public honor must be given where public honor is due. We have three vets here today who served with Sgt. Richard Quinn. With the quilt, they’ve brought Richard back home to us.”
And he spoke for all the veterans gathered.
“We love hearing that — Thank you for your service.”Brian Hollander