A Central Coast veteran was honored for his service with a quilt on Friday. That ceremony marked a milestone for him and for Quilts of Valor, the group that gave it to him.
Quilts of Valor has been presenting handmade quilts to veterans since the group began in 2003. In 2013, the group started counting the number of quilts they gave out, and in April 2022, they reached 300,000 quilts.
To honor the milestone, each of the 600 Quilts of Valor chapters across the United States is handing out an honorary 300,000th quilt. On the Central Coast, that quilt was presented to Staff Sergeant Fred Wyrick.
Wyrick, an Oceano resident, served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, before being stationed at the Denton County Veterans Administration in Denton, TX, where he counseled veterans.
Wyrick told KSBY that the feeling of receiving the quilt was hard to put into words.
"It's just a peace and a comfort and warmth to be recognized through a time when there wasn't a whole lot of recognition," Wyrick said.
"So many of us didn't hear much of anything positive [for our service]. It's great to hear the positivity now," he added. "It all just comes back like it was yesterday."
Hours of meticulous work go into each quilt, Quilts of Valor members say, calling it an appropriate way to thank those who have given so much to their country.
"You get a quilt like that, and you know there's a lot of love and a lot of feeling associated with it. And a lot of giving," Paul Berwick, group leader for the Central Coast Quilts of Valor, said. "And as a veteran, you know what you gave."
Berwick says the quilts offer tangible warmth and comfort to veterans.
"It is healing for the wounds that we never see. Not all the wounds are physical, many of them are mental and emotional," Berwick said.
The Central Coast Quilts of Valor began in May 2021 and presents quilts to veterans in San Luis Obispo, Kern, Monterey and Santa Barbara counties.
To nominate a veteran or active-duty service member to receive a quilt, you can email CentralCoastQOV@gmail.com.