Father and son United States Military Veterans Paul and Mike Raben were honored on Monday, July 5 at the Memorial Park surrounded by family, friends, and members of the American Legion and American Legion Riders.
Both men were in complete shock as it was a surprise pulled off by their loved ones.
“We’re here to celebrate you,” said Quilt of Valor presenter Kathy Dye.
Paul looked around at all of the “guilty” individuals that knew of the surprise but kept it a secret.
“We make and present quilts to veterans and service members who have been touched by war whatever that may look like,” Dye said. “We present them with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. I have to say that this is the most quilters that I have seen at a presentation in a long time.”
The Panhandle Blocks Quilts of Valor group was started in 2018 and has given out over 400 Quilts of Valor to Panhandle veterans. The Quilts of Valor Foundation spans across the United States and a few other countries with 10,000 members and has honored nearly 276,000 veterans in every branch of service.
“It’s our pleasure to honor the two of you today,” said Dye. “You two have quite the fan club here.
Look at all of those people,” she said as she pointed to the people watched.
“Those are all people that you can no longer trust,” she laughed and the crowd chuckled. “But they are here because they love you and they want to thank you and show their respect as well.”
Hemingford Legion Member Brett Sorensen spoke about what it means to be a veteran.
“As we honor Mike and Paul today let us remember what it means to be a veteran,” Sorensen said. “A veteran - whether active duty, retired, or national guard or reserve - is someone who has raised their right hand to take an oath at which point in time they wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America,’ for an amount of ‘up to and including their life.”
“Today and everyday let us remember those veterans who gave some and those veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their all. This is an honor and that deserves respect. Our debt to all of these heroic men and women can never be repaid. They have earned out undoing gratitude.”
Sorensen then read the military background of each of the men.
Paul B. Raben was drafted by the U. S. Army during the Vietnam War and went to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri in February of 1964.
After Basic Training he was stationed at Fort Hood Texas where he was assigned to the 2nd Armored Division and trained as a Spec 4 Radar Specialist.
He was honorably discharged in February of 1966.
Mike P. Raben enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in January of 1989. He went to basic training at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas, in May of 1989. After basic training he was stationed at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, and was trained to be a Wideband Radio Communication Specialist. In January of 1990, he was stationed at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. In June of 1990, he was sent back to Keesler to be trained as a base and installation security systems specialist. He returned to Ellsworth in December 1990, where he maintained and repaired security and video system devices safeguarding nuclear weapons.
In January of 1991, his entire shop received orders to be deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Desert Storm. However, due to the rapid progress of the war, the orders were canceled three weeks later.
Raben was honorably discharged in May of 1993.
“This quilt is meant to comfort you. It is a gift from your friends and family and a grateful nation,” said Dye.
“We know that freedom isn’t free but because of you, and men and women like you, we have the freedoms that we enjoy today,” she added. “We thank you for that as well.”
Mike's Quilt of Valor was pieced and quilted by Shelley Blow and bound by Sonya Buskirk. Paul's was made by Jane Schledewitz.
“The ceremony was awesome,” said Mike.
Mike was told that his dad was being honored and it was his job to get him to the ceremony. Little did he know that he would be wrapped in his own Quilt of Valor.
“It was really cool getting honored with my dad at the same time,” said Mike. “It was very moving.”