They have a combined military service of more than 50 years. They’re past and present members of the the U.S. Navy, Army National Guard and Marine Corps.

Four men from northern Richland County, North Dakota, were honored Thursday Nov. 7. They received Quilts of Valor during an community-wide Veterans Day assembly at Richland Elementary, Abercrombie, North Dakota.

Isle Vangerud, 94, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1943-1946. The Kindred, North Dakota native was among the Americans at Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945, the day the American flag as part of the Battle of Iwo Jima.

“We heard cheering,” Vangerud wrote. “We looked up and there at the peak of Mt. Suribachi waved the ‘Stars and Stripes’ — only for a minute. Then the bigger, broader ‘Old Glory’ took up a permanent position.”

Members of the Richland 44 community were proud to see Vangerud and his fellow veterans honored. Following the assembly, numerous local veterans gathered for a photo.

The most recent Quilts of Valor honorees have service spanning from World War II to the present day.

Gary Williams, Colfax, North Dakota, served in the U.S. Navy from 1971-1990. During the Vietnam War era, he served on a submarine and was aboard during a test ballistic missile launch. The submarine traveled between America and Spain, at one time spring on Russians in the harbor.

Dustin DeVillers, rural Colfax, serves full time in the North Dakota Army National Guard. His military career includes a 2009-2010 tour in Kosovo. A coach for Richland 44, DeVillers won the North Dakota Army National Guard’s Best Warrior Competition, non-commissioned officer category, in 2017.

Travis Hackey, originally from rural Colfax, has been a member of the U.S. Army National Guard since 1993. His military career including a 2003-2004 tour in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The son of former Richland 44 Principal Bruce Hackey, Travis Hackey followed in his father’s footsteps as an educator.

Red River Quilters, which has 37 members throughout the region, is organized under the nonprofit Quilts of Valor Foundation. As of October 2019, 73 Quilts of Valor had been awarded by the Red River Quilters to veterans who were touched by war during their lifetime.

“Our group is one of two in the state of North Dakota and we are trying to present quilts to all the veterans in our state,” quilter Deb Mitskog said.

Quilts of Valor, a national organization, was founded in 2003 by Catherine Roberts. It began following Roberts’ dream where her son Nat, deployed in Iraq at the time, received a quilt.

“His whole demeanor changed from one of despair to one of hope and well-being,” Mitskog said. “The quilt comforted him and fended off the ‘war demons’ that troubled him. From this vision, the Quilts of Valor Foundation began. The message of her dream was that quilts equal healing.”

Since November 2003, more than 231,000 Quilts of Valor have been awarded throughout the United States. The foundation includes more than 11,000 members.

The Red River Quilters will continue to honor local veterans through the weekend of Friday, Nov. 8.

A 10 a.m. presentation is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 10 at Faith Lutheran Church, Wolverton, Minnesota. World War II and Korean War veteran Earl Edwards, U.S. Army, will be honored. Edwards’ service included time in Central Europe and the Korea-Japan region.

Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Colfax, will also host a Quilts of Valor presentation. It’s scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 10. U.S. Army veterans Adam Fashold, Darrell Heyen, Leonard Heyen and Rickie Stubson will be honored. The Heyens served in Germany and Alaska, respectively, during the 1950s. Stubson served during the Vietnam War during the 1970s. Fahsholz’s service during Operation Enduring Freedom included nine months in Afghanistan.

Daily News expresses its gratitude to all U.S. military veterans in the Red River Valley, North Dakota and Minnesota, as well as nationwide.

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