Quilts of Valor were presented by the Piecemakers Quilts of Valor Stitchers to 12 veterans residing in Sawyer County at several Veterans Day programs Nov. 8-11.
The Quilts of Valor Stitchers are coordinated by Norma Riehm of Hayward. Hand-tied Freedom quilts are awarded in thanks for the honored veteran’s military service, sacrifice and valor, and for their extended community service. “The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor,” Riehm said.
Since 2003, more than 200,757 Quilts of Valor have been awarded to veterans nation-wide.
Honored at concert
Five veterans were honored with Quilts of Valor during the Hayward High School Choir Veterans Day Concert Thursday, Nov. 8:
Clifton Korn — Cliff served in the U.S. Air Force between December 1964 and November 1968. He served overseas in security forces in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He received the Air Force Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Vietnam Service Medal. He retired after many years of service as a law enforcement investigator. He is a local pilot and continues to serve his fellow veterans through the local Vietnam Veterans of America post.
After receiving the quilt, Korn responded that “There are homeless veterans still out there. This reminds me to do all I can to ensure that no one in this great country has to go to bed cold and hungry.”
Thomas Blumenberg — Thomas served between 1983 and 2004, retiring as Captain from Public Health Service Department. “In the Veteran Service Office, every day is Memorial Day and Veterans Day. That is our job,” said Sawyer County Assistant Veterans Service Officer Renee Brown. “However, Tom Blumenberg honors veterans by giving his time and energy, volunteering and interviewing local veterans.
“Tom’s passion ensures the stories, efforts and actions of our local heroes are not lost. Tom’s interviews and stories are submitted to the Sawyer County Record and also to the Veterans History Project, Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. These stories are made available for folks across the country and world. Additionally, in the past, Tom was certified as a Master Gardner and shared his time, passion and talent teaching the local second grade classes how to grow seeds and plants. This is what makes Tom so special. This evening, we thank you for your great service to country and community. We honor you with a Quilt of Valor.”
Kathleen O’Cull — Kathy O’Cull is a retiree from the U.S. Navy, Gulf War Era. Storekeeper Chief Petty Officer O’Cull received three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals; Armed Forces Reserve Medal; M-16 Expert Ribbon, .45 Marksman ribbon; .38 Expert Medal; and the National Defense Service Medal. O’Cull currently serves and is active in the local AmVets Post.
Dave Van Landschoot — Dave served in the U.S. Army between 1968 and 1970, serving overseas in Vietnam during the war. He was honorably discharged as a Staff Sergeant, serving as Field Artillery Gunner.
He earned the Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and National Defense Service Medal. He continued his service and selflessness by giving his time to organizations such as the UW-Superior Alumni Association Board, including a term as president. He served on the Veterans and Non-traditional Student Board and in Hayward, the church council at First Lutheran Church. He has volunteered for eight years with the Barnebirkie, and served on the Sawyer County Habitat for Humanity Board.
Wayne Balsavich: Major Wayne Balsavich is a retiree of the U.S. Air Force, giving nearly 35 years of his life to the U.S. military and our country. He received a special 200,000th Quilt of Valor, put together by Nicki Mays.
Balsavich is the proud son of a World War II Navy veteran (Ray Balsavich) and a proud father and grandfather. He was a mission commander on the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft with more than 5,500 hours. He began his military career by enlisting in 1971 and after obtaining his master’s degree in 1983, he went on to Officer Training School and eventually retired in 2005. He received the following major awards and decorations: Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster; Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Cluster: Aerial Achievement Medal; and the Humanitarian Service Medal with two bronze stars.
Major Balsavich served in more than 17 major operations and campaigns, including Operations ELF-One, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Thunder, Fox, Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom. He also helped counter narco-terrorism in Central and South America.
Major Balsavich has continued his service to our country and community through his passion for organizations, including president of the Hayward Bass Club; boat captain for the Hayward Area High School Bass Team; board member of Hayward Chapter of Muskies, Inc. and Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin; Adjutant of local LCO AmVets Post 1998 (instrumental in organizing honor guard ceremonies and activities).
He also is involved with Park Theater Project, and at St. Joseph Catholic Church with the Knights of Columbus. He sings at the funeral masses of fellow veterans and sings with the Christmas carolers at local nursing homes.
Honored with Quilts of Valor during the community Veterans Day program Friday, Nov. 9, at Hayward Intermediate School were:
Harold Burton: Burton served in the U.S. Army from 1961 to 1968, graduating from flight school in 1964. He flew at Fort Lewis, Washington, during the deployment of troops in the Berlin Crisis of 1961. A few years later, he served in the Vietnam War, where he flew a L-19 “Bird Dog” spotter plane for six months, and a Huey helicopter for six months, with over 250 combat missions, earning several military medals including the Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Army Good Conduct Medal.
After his military separation in 1968, Burton continued his service to country and community by beginning a career with the Wisconsin State Patrol, flying air patrol in the Milwaukee area and northwest Wisconsin. He worked as a state trooper in the Hayward area between1978-1990, and worked boat patrol for the DNR and served as a city police officer for Hayward between1990-1995.
Burton obtained his flight instructor’s certification in 1988 and since that time he has and continues to train pilots in this area. He also serves his community in the Civil Air Patrol, Fishing Has No Boundaries, and the Vietnam Veterans of America. Burton was also the recent recipient of the FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilots Award, the nation’s top aircraft pilot award.
Veteran of Year banquet
During the Hayward Area Veteran of the Year banquet Saturday, Nov. 10, Stephen Lynch and Thomas Moore were presented with Quilts of Valor.
Stephen Lynch — The 2018 Hayward Veteran of the Year, Lynch served in the U.S. Marine Corps between 1964 and 1968. During his four years, he spent over a year in Vietnam as a radio repairman. Sgt. Lynch was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1968 and earned the National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Commendation; Vietnam Service Medal; and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Lynch is a vital part of the veterans community in Hayward,” Brown said. “His continued service to veterans and community is inspiring, including his service, membership and leadership within the Hayward VFW Post 7233, American Legion Post 218, and honor guard.
Lynch serves as chairman of the Sawyer County Veterans Commission, which helps veterans in crisis, including those who are homeless. “He drops whatever he is doing to help someone in need,” Brown said.
Lynch also helps with the Barnes Historical Society, Marine Corps Birthday planning, and Lost Dogs of Wisconsin.
Thomas Moore — Moore served in the U.S. Army between January 1970 and January 1972. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War and earned the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and is the recipient of the Purple Heart.
Moore continues to serve his country and community by being involved within the VFW Post 7233, American Legion Post 218, and the Hayward Veterans Association. “He is very passionate about veterans’ issues and served as post service officer for many years,” Brown said.
Moore received a quilt made by his cousin Nicki.
During the Veterans Day luncheon Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Stone Lake Lions Community Center, Navy veteran and former Sawyer County Board of Supervisors chairman Harold “Hal” Helwig was presented with a Quilt of Valor by Renee Brown, assistant Sawyer County Veterans Service Officer.
Helwig served in the U.S. Navy from October 1950 to 1954 during the Korean War and was honorably discharged. He received the National Defense and Korean Service medals, the United Nations Medal and Good Conduct Medal. Also, his sons both served in the military.
During Helwig’s service on the county board, “He did so much for veterans,” Brown said. “The VA Clinic is here (in Hayward) because of Hal, his passion and hard work. He always came into our office to check on the veterans. No matter what was needed, he was there for us.”