One of the unique things about programs like Quilts of Valor is that by honoring veterans, the organizations helps those veterans tell stories — some of which modern Americans have never heard.

Bob Lutz of Vinton served in the Korea War era, as a member of the 3rd Infantry Division. His tour of duty included two unique assignments that most Iowans know little or nothing about.

Lutz was among U.S. troops who accompanied the bodies of fallen Colombian soldiers (along with survivors from that country) home from Korea. A story in the The City Paper of Bogata indicates that more than 5,100 Colombian troops served with U.S. soldiers in Korea, and nearly 150 died.

Later, Lutz and his unit had a more pleasant task, organizing a parade in New Orleans. Lutz says he was among those helping to carry the flag in that event, which the U.S. military published in its its first video series, entitled “The Big Picture.”

“We were honored to bring back the colors for the parade,” Lutz recalls.

The parade was a tribute to those who died in Korea as Americans marked the fourth anniversary of the beginning of that conflict.

Lutz and John Anderson were among several eastern Iowa veterans to receive a Quilt of Valor, in a special ceremony in Cedar Rapids on Saturday. Vietnam veteran Ralph Osenbaugh presented the quilts to the veterans. Nearly 160,000 veterans throughout across the U.S. have received a Quilt of Valor, as an expression of thanks for their service to their country.

As with many of the Quilts of Valor recently presented to Vinton area veterans, including Josh and DJ Mulder, long-time local resident Rita Moore was among those helping to make the quilts for Lutz and Anderson. (Moore even made a quilt for Josh Mulder’s service dog, Traveler.)

“The quilt is another great honor I will treasure for a long time,” says Lutz. “Rita went to a lot of work, and so did the other quilters.”

Family members joining Lutz for the event included his wife, Carol and daughter, Lisa.

“It was a real nice ceremony,” says Anderson, who served a year in Vietnam with Company E, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. (See some photos of Americal Division troops in action HERE.)

During the ceremony, Osenbaugh and Elayne Gassett, the cooprdinator of the Long Arm Quilters who help create the gifts, presented a quilt to each veteran, one at a time.

“I especially enjoyed the part where they put the quilt around my shoulders, and Elayne gave me a hug,” says Anderson. “That was part of the deal – every veteran who got a quilt also got a hug from Elayne.”

Anderson was one of several Vietnam war veterans to receive a quilt on Saturday, along with a five Korean vets and one who had served in Afghanistan.

Anderson also had the chance to thank his family, including his wife, Barb, son Matthew and daughters Maria and Melanie.

He also said a special word of thanks to Moore.

“I can’t thank Rita enough,” says Anderson. “She got me into this. One Sunday, at church, she asked if I had a Quilt of Valor. I told her I don’t know what that is. So, the next Sunday she had me fill out a form. Then, three weeks ago, she called and said they wanted to present a quilt to me on the Sunday after Easter.”