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Stony Point Grange makes quilt to honor 1950's veteran

The Herald - 6/21/2018

June 21--DELAWARE TOWNSHIP -- Clad in an original Army jacket without even the suggestion of a wrinkle, Richard Abbott, 86, can still give a salute that snaps.

While wearing that Korean War-era uniform, Abbott also showed he can still stand at attention when he was awarded a "Quilt of Valor" by the Stony Point Grange. The Delaware Township organization presented him the award last week.

"This means something very special to me," he said of the quilt presentation. "It shows people really care."

The Hermitage resident also has a sharp wit.

"Some people call me a monk because of my last name," he chortled.

Abbott grew up in Sharon and worked in maintenance at the Golden Dawn grocery store and Peter J. Schmidt, where he also did some truck driving, before his local draft board selected him for service in the Army.

Abbott served in the infantry from 1953 to 1955 in Germany, where he performed mostly guard duty.

"They shipped us over to Germany in a boat back then," he relates. "I'm glad they send our military people over there in planes now."

A good chunk of his time was spent in Berlin, Germany's pre-World War II capital, and at the Brandenburg Gate, one of the passages between East Berlin, controlled by the Soviet Union, and West Berlin, overseen by the United States, French and British forces.

People and traffic could travel through the gate in the immediate post-war, but the passage was closed by the Russians when the Berlin Wall was built in 1961.

"You could say I was behind the Iron Wall," Abbott said.

While in Berlin, he found that city had been transformed.

"You could never tell the city was almost destroyed by air raids in World War II," Abbott said. "They had everything cleaned up. Everything looked brand new."

During his tour, he became friends with some Germans and still has a high regard for the population.

"They were very grateful we were there," Abbott said. "They didn't want to fall in the hands of the Russians. And I never had an argument with any German when I was over there."

He now needs a walker to get around, but he was able to bring an artifact -- an old Army helmet -- to the ceremony.

"These helmets were used in World War I," Abbott said. "When World War II started for us, these were the helmets given out until they got the new versions in."

The grange chose Abbott for the honor on the recommendation of Tim McGee, commander of the Mercer County Disabled American Veterans, although Abbott said he wanted to keep the nature of his disability private.

"I found Mr. Abbott to be an interesting character," McGee said.

McGee said he found that Abbott treated his military service as an important part of his life.

"He had a lot of service paraphernalia that he was very proud to display," McGee said. "He had a chunk of the Berlin Wall from when it was taken down."

McGee said Abbott deserves the recognition, even if he doesn't think so.

"He is a very humble man," McGee said. "He told me multiple times he didn't do anything -- that maybe we should give this award to somebody who was more deserving. I told him we spent weeks going through candidates before we selected him. He was very appreciative of that."

This is the second year Stony Point Grange has awarded a Quilt of Honor to a local veteran. Martha Gruber, who is in charge of the organization's public service programs, said her mother, Pat Boyd, got the idea from an online article.

"We as a grange like to do a lot of community service," Gruber said. "This is one small thing we can do to the men and women who served for us."

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(c)2018 The Herald (Sharon,Pa)

Visit The Herald (Sharon,Pa) at www.sharonherald.com

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