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Veterans, classmates from Mexico High School receive Quilts of Valor


Veterans and lifelong friends in Mexico, Missouri, received Quilts of Valor on Friday in honor of their service to America.

"If I'm going to get a Quilt of Valor, there's not a better group of guys I'd rather get it with," said Les Gibson, who is a veteran of the Vietnam War.

Gibson is one-of-12 men who received a Quilt of Valor on Friday. Eleven of the men are Vietnam veterans who were all classmates at Mexico High School, with the only exception being a Korean War veteran who was the high school teacher of the rest of the men.

Even more, five of the men, including Gibson, Richard Bannister, Sherman Brown, Bob Rudd and Wayne Maxwell, were childhood friends and were drafted together. Gibson said they have been able to stay in touch almost 60 years.

"When we get together, we enjoy our time together because we know we may not be here next month," Gibson said.

He said a couple of the men grew up just a few blocks away from each other in Mexico, while others he didn't meet until junior high school. That includes Brown, who said Gibson said he became friends with shortly after schools began integrating in the 1950s.

The five men were all drafted in 1965. Gibson got his official draft notice in 1966 and served from 1966-68.

They are part of a larger group of more than 50 veterans and old Mexico High School classmates who meet for lunch about once a month. The lunches first started about two years ago, and the men say it has been refreshing to get to see old friends, some of whom hadn't heard from each other in decades.

"We kind of separated, we all went in different directions, but I've been able to reunite with them at these various meetings we've had and dinners and so on," Maxwell said. "It's a pretty warm feeling."

While only 12 men received quilts on Friday, 36 of the Mexico veterans are receiving Quilts of Valor. After Friday's ceremony, two more ceremonies will occur in the coming months.

Gibson said others in the group who are not being presented with quilts have already previously received one. A Quilt of Valor is a handmade quilt awarded to a service member or veteran to recognize their sacrifice. It has an official label on the back with the person's name who is receiving the quilt.

Kathy Dempsey -- of Mid-Missouri Quilts of Valor ,the group that is making the quilts -- said each quilt can take between 5-30 hours to make.

"It takes a lot of hands to complete a Quilt of Valor," Dempsey said.

Mid-Missouri Quilts of Valor President Connie Richards said this is a cause close to her heart; and being able to present quilts to these veterans is a great feeling.

"It means the world to me," Richards said. "I want to thank every veteran I see. And if you just look around you, they're everywhere."

Friday's ceremony included the presentation of 12 quilts, along with the pinning of the Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin for Vietnam veterans. Gibson said it meant a lot to him and his fellow veterans to receive this recognition.

"We're very appreciative of it because regardless of when you served, when the veterans of the Vietnam War Era came home, they weren't thought of very highly," Gibson said.

The men who received Quilts of Valor on Friday include:

  • Richard Bannister, Vietnam War veteran
  • Sherman Brown, Vietnam War veteran
  • Dave Bell, Korean War veteran
  • Jim Gentry, Vietnam War veteran
  • Les Gibson, Vietnam War veteran
  • Dwight Herndon, Vietnam War veteran
  • Wayne Maxwell, Vietnam War veteran
  • Tom Prior, Vietnam War veteran
  • Tom Roe, Vietnam War veteran
  • Bob Rudd, Vietnam War veteran
  • John Worland, Vietnam War veteran
  • Leon Zeigler, Vietnam War veteran

Gibson said Friday was also a day to remember the classmates who never had the opportunity to get a Quilt of Valor, which made the recognition mean that much more to the old classmates.

"Not everybody has nightmares, but you never forget it," Gibson said. "You don't forget the friends that you lost."

To nominate someone for a Quilt of Valor, go to

Article Topic Follows: Mexico

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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