2 Orange vets receive Quilts of Valor

  • U.S. military veterans Edward Day, left, and Joe Young pose with the Quilts of Valor they were presented with Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Quilter Nancy Blackmer, secretary of the North Orange Grange, far left, watches as veteran Joe Young admires the Quilt of Valor being presented to him by Theresa Perrault and Janet Segur at the Community Church of North Orange and Tully on Tuesday night. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Military veteran Edward Day, left, looks on as Janet Segur, director of the Massachusetts State Grange’s Veterans Committee, reads a biography of Day as Theresa Perrault, the Quilts of Valor Foundation’s Massachusetts state coordinator, and Nancy Blackmer, secretary of the North Orange Grange, look on at the Community Church of North Orange and Tully on Tuesday night. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • U.S. military veteran Joe Young, left, looks on as Janet Segur, director of the Massachusetts State Grange’s Veterans Committee, reads a biography of Young as Nancy Blackmer, secretary of the North Orange Grange, looks on at the Community Church of North Orange and Tully on Tuesday night. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 5/13/2022 9:48:40 AM
Modified: 5/13/2022 9:47:01 AM

ORANGE — Joe Young thought he was only giving a talk about his hike on the Appalachian Trail. Edward Day had an inkling.

Both military veterans visited the Community Church of North Orange and Tully for a North Orange Grange event on Tuesday night and left with a handmade quilt meant as thanks for their years of service. And while Day “kind of did know” the honor was coming his way, Young was duped into showing up for a 15-minute talk he delivered about his hiking adventures before being informed he would receive a quilt.

“I had no idea,” Young said after posing for pictures with Day once the ceremony concluded.

The honor was made possible by the Quilts of Valor Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to literally and metaphorically comfort veterans with the healing love of a homemade quilt as an expression of gratitude for their sacrifices. The quilts were crafted by Nancy Blackmer, the Orange town clerk and North Orange Grange secretary. Orange veterans Leon Nicoliello, Dan Kimball, George C.F. Willard and James Cornwell were previously bestowed with quilts.

“I had no idea that Nancy was dragging me out here for this,” Young said with a laugh after the ceremony.

Janet Segur, director of the Massachusetts State Grange’s Veterans Committee, read aloud biographies of the two men separately before Theresa Perrault, the Quilts of Valor Foundation’s Massachusetts state coordinator, and Blackmer unveiled the quilts and draped them over the veterans.

“I think it’s wonderful that they do things like this,” Day said. “Almost brought me to tears, even though I knew about it. People do appreciate what you’re doing, you know? You can’t say enough about that.”

Day joined the U.S. Coast Guard on Oct. 5, 1954, and served until he was discharged as a machinist’s mate second class on Oct. 3, 1958. He served out of Boston on the Coast Guard Cutter Duane for about two years, sailing the North Atlantic on weather patrol and having contact with aircraft flying from Europe to the United States.

He met his wife, Doris Woodbury, and married her on Jan. 13, 1957. The two settled into their first house on Brookside Road in Athol.

While in the service, Day attended night school and earned his second class boiler tender engineering license. He also worked nights at a tool and die shop, and later worked at the L.S. Starrett Co. with Doris, and also at the Erving Paper Mill. Day started working at Pratt & Whitney in April 1966 and the two moved to Enfield, Connecticut, where they had four children, two of whom died early in life. They also fostered 18 children and have now been married for 65 years.

Young enlisted in the Army National Guard at Paoletti’s Fruit Stand on South Main Street in Orange in the 1970s. He was sworn in by his godfather, Col. Carl Paoletti. Young was discharged in October 2013 as a sergeant major. He served as a truck mechanic in Worcester and a tank/turret mechanic on Cape Cod. He and his wife, Andrea, had three children.

Young was deployed to Tallil, Iraq, for 12 months in 2003 and to Abu Ghraib in 2005 for 13 months. He was awarded the combat infantry badge — the same honor his father earned in World War II — while at Abu Ghraib and has a Bronze Star for his heroic actions during an attack by insurgents.

He was the first member of the Massachusetts National Guard to receive this award since World War II, and he was also awarded Gold Spurs for his involvement in battle while at Abu Ghraib.

Young also organizes an annual Veterans Day walk between Orange and Athol. It is held rain or shine because the nation’s soldiers don’t have the luxury of choosing the weather they work in.

Reach Domenic Poli at dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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