PELLA — Pella resident Jack Gililland was honored with a Quilt of Valor for his military service.
Gililland was surrounded by close family and friends, including his wife Sheila, for an intimate award ceremony at his home. Jeri Beem, along with her husband and veteran Rod Beem, traveled from Winterset to present Gililland with his quilt. Jeri Beem is a member of the Piece Works Quilt Shop Quilts of Valor group.
“A veteran, whether on active duty, discharged, retired or in the reserves, is someone who at one point in their life wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America to uphold and defend our Constitution, for any amount up to and including their life,” said Rod Beem, United States Army, American Legion.
Gililland had an interesting military career, serving in the Navy, Army and Army National Guard. He first enlisted in the Navy at age 18 while living in New Mexico and received basic training in 1951 in San Diego. Following basic training, he was shipped to Japan and worked as a Base Fireman, Shore Patrol member and Support Duty to send supplies to troops in Korea.
In 1953, he sailed to Vietnam to evacuate French Foreign Legionnaires, their families and Vietnamese citizens during the French Indochina War. After being discharged in 1954, he achieved the rank of Seaman 1st Class.
Later, Gililland enlisted in the Army and received Nike missile training. He was then assigned to the Honest John Rocket Battalion in Fort Worth, Texas as a Forward Observer. The MGR-1 Honest John rocket was the first nuclear capable, surface-to-surface rocket in the nation.
After four years in the Army, Gililland transferred to the Army National Guard in California, ending his career in 1962 with the rank of Specialist 5th Class (E-5). The telephone outfit Gililland began working for eventually brought him to Pella.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation was founded in 2003 by Catherine Roberts after her son Nate served in the Iraq War. The Foundation’s mission is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing quilts. To date, over 252,000 quilts have been presented in every state and branch of service.
“The quilt awarded today tells you and your family the importance of your service,” said Rod Beem. “You gave your time away from home and family to serve part of your life as a member of the United States Armed Forces. I hope your quilt comforts and keeps you warm when it is wrapped around you.”