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Local veteran honored to be awarded a Floyd County Quilt of Valor

  • Bruce White as a machinist mate, Petty Officer Second Class in the United States Navy. White served in the U.S. Navy from 1959 until 1963. Photo submitted

  • The label stitched on the Quilt of Valor Bruce White received last month. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • U.S. Navy veteran Bruce White received a Floyd County Quilt of Valor last month at the Floyd County Courthouse. Photo submitted

By Kelly Terpstra, kterpstra@charlescitypress.com

Bruce White has made sure to remember fellow military veterans as a lifelong resident of Charles City.

One need only drive by the Floyd County Veterans Memorial in front of the courthouse on Main Street to witness such an expression of gratitude that White had a hand in becoming a reality.

So it was a pleasant surprise and quite an honor for the Navy machinist mate to receive a comforting reminder of the dedication it required to serve his country.

That love and appreciation came in the form of a quilt – but not just any quilt.

A Quilt of Valor.

“I kind of thought it was just go up there, wrap a coat around you and go,” said White. “They do quite a dedication to your service.”

The quilts presented by the Floyd County Quilts of Valor honor those who have served in the armed forces.

White received his one-of-a-kind hand-stitched quilt in the Floyd County Courthouse last month. The ceremony was held in the office of Veteran’s Affairs Office Executive Director Maria Deike, herself a veteran of the U.S. Army from 2002-2012 and a recent recipient of a Quilt of Valor.

White said he was very thankful for the effort Deike put into making the presentation one he will remember forever.

“The quilts are all handmade and they’re all different,” said White.

White said “The Star Spangled Banner” was sung and Pledge of Allegiance said at his Quilt of Valor ceremony, in addition to the recognition of his service to the Navy and the jobs he performed.

White served as an E-5, petty officer second class in the Navy during the Vietnam War era from 1959 to 1963.

His decision to enlist in the military was motivated by his sibling’s willingness to sacrifice their time and energy for their country. Plus White felt it was his duty to protect his fellow citizens.

“We had to have a military,” said White. “I just kind of followed suit. My oldest brother, he was in the Navy. My next brother was in the Army. My brother Stanley was killed in Vietnam.”

White was on the committee that came up with the idea to create the veterans memorial in the front of the courthouse. The first organizational meeting was held on March 30, 2004. He was joined by his brother, Art, John Gohr, Dan Squier, Chuck Lemaster, Keith Oldham and Andy Cerio.

At first, the committee wanted to have the memorial located in a pavilion in Central Park in downtown Charles City. In May of 2005, the committee decided to honor all Floyd County veterans who have honorably served, are currently serving or will serve.

“We started out with 10 stones,” said White.

Now there are 14 stones and more than 2,000 veterans’ names engraved on the granite pillars.

White is still a member of the Veterans Memorial committee alongside his brother, Squier, Jodie Buehler and Deike.

“We still meet to this day,” he said.

The Floyd County Veterans Memorial was dedicated on May 26, 2008.

White was stationed on the USS Rogers, DD-876, a Navy destroyer that was ported in San Diego. He defended America on that battleship in various places in the Pacific Ocean like Okinawa and the Philippines and even Australia.

White was a machinist mate and he helped maintain pumps, valves, piping and steam lines that gave power to the destroyer so it could sail the seas.

“We took the steam that the boiler tenders would make and the steam would run the main engines and pumps,” said White.

White, who will turn 80 in August, has recently had to undergo dialysis as his health is failing.

“My kidneys are shot and because of my age I cannot get a transplant,” he said.

He said his doctor told him that his carotid artery is blocked, but that he won’t need surgery on that.

“The World War II veterans are about gone,” said White. “It’s starting to get the Korean War veterans – they’re fading out, too.”

White has received a National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and a Navy “E” ribbon.

The 1958 Charles City High School graduate knows he won’t be here forever, but any chance he gets he makes sure to let someone know that he is thankful for their service.

So it’s even more gratifying to hear it from anyone that he encounters when he is out and about.

“I wear a cap that says “Navy” on it. You’d be surprised how many people come up to you and say, ‘thank you for your service,’” said White. “It means a lot.”

White is a lifetime member of the AMVets Post 49 of Cedar Falls and was past commander of the VFW Post 3914 and member of the American Legion.

His older brother, Gil White, and Gil’s wife, Donna, donated $275,000 to help build the Gil and Donna White Charles City FFA Youth Enrichment Center. The grand opening of that multi-purpose building took place in 2017.

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