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February 2024

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Photo by Lou McCall Veteran Roger Blanco with his Quilt of Valor, presented by The Taos Quilt and Needlework Guild on December 4, at Rael’s Coffee House, as part of his 78th birthday celebration.

Quilt of Valor Awarded to Veteran Roger Blanco

On Saturday December 4, the Taos Quilt and Needlecraft Guild awarded the Quilt of Valor to Mr. Roger Blanco, one of Questa’s distinguished veterans who served our country and was touched by war. The event was held at Rael’s Store & Coffee House and attended by a large group of friends and family to celebrate Roger’s 78th birthday, (December 11). The party and quilt presentation was organized by Roger’s girlfriend, Joann Muller, of Albuquerque, and it was quite an event. A delicious lunch and beautiful cake were served, and the quilt was presented to him.

This quilt was made by a group of 33 local women and men who have made it their mission to sew Quilts of Valor to present to local veterans. Prayers and bits of love are sewn into each quilt. In a normal year, the group presents about 20 quilts to local veterans. This past year, that number skyrocketed to 120. For the May Questa Del Rio News issue, the group honored the late Virgil Martinez with a Quilt of Valor to help celebrate his 101st birthday. Then again on November 2, Modesto Cisneros’s Quilt of Valor for his service during the Korean War was awarded to him at his home, with family and friends in attendance.

The Quilts of Valor Foundation is a national organization with the mission to “cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.”

“Mr. Blanco, you have sacrificed time, talents, and often your health to stand up and protect our freedom. You are important and deserving and we wish to remember this. We thank you for your service. We honor that sacrifice and dedication. And we are grateful you are here so we can thank you!” said Chris Abeyta, spokesperson for the Taos Quilt and Needlecraft Guild.

For his injuries in battle, Roger was awarded the Purple Heart and for that, was also awarded the Quilt of Valor. Abeyta continued, “It is our profound hope that this quilt will serve as a reminder that your sacrifice is remembered. We hope you will use it and display it as a badge of honor. We thank you, Mr. Blanco, and recognize the personal sacrifice of your years of active duty in the military. We hope that it will bring you peace and comfort in years to come.”

Mr. Blanco served in the Vietnam War and was assigned the dangerous mission of being a “Tunnel Rat.” Tunnel Rats were volunteer combat engineers and infantrymen for the US and Australian Armies who cleared and destroyed enemy tunnel complexes. In the early stages of the war against French colonial forces, the Viet Minh created an extensive underground system of tunnels, expanded by the Viet Cong. By the 1960s, the tunnel complexes included hospitals, training areas, storage facilities, headquarters, and barracks. These facilities had sophisticated ventilation systems, allowing the Viet Cong forces to remain hidden underground for months at a time.

Mr. Blanco was actually awarded a second Purple Heart, which he never received due to paperwork getting lost, but he was recognized. He was also awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Medal (V-Device), and an Air Medal, which is a decoration awarded for single acts of heroism or meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.

For more information about the Quilts of Valor Foundation, visit https://www.qovf.org/. If you would like to contact the Taos Quilt and Needlecraft Guild, please contact taosquilt@gmail.com.