‘We didn’t get treated quite this way when we came back from Vietnam’
Rick Barker joked that the weather was not appropriate for being wrapped up in a blanket in the 95-degree heat on Saturday. Nonetheless, Barker could not stop repeating the word “honored.”
Barker was presented with a quilt of valor from the Quilt of Valor Foundation on Saturday for his service in Vietnam in 1968.
“Please know that this quilt is meant to convey comfort and appreciation for your sacrifice for your country,” said Donna Kiger, a Quilt of Valor Foundation volunteer. “Each stitch has been loving sewed.”
The Quilt of Valor Foundation has been in existence for 20 years. Barker’s quilt is one of 355,000 presented.
Barker walked into this presentation not knowing what was happening. As far as he knew, he was being presented with a blanket.
Kiger expressed the Quilt of Valor Foundation’s gratitude as Barker stood near his brick in the Veteran’s Plaza in Old Town Newhall.
“It’s great, I’m always incredibly honored and just amazed at the people that do things for veterans because as all of us (as Barker gestured toward fellow members of the Veterans Memorial Committee) that served, we didn’t get treated quite this way when we came back from Vietnam, but it’s just incredible and it’s heartwarming, really, to see that support in this valley,” said Barker.
Barker served in the Marine Corps in 1968 in the Vietnam War and was wounded in August 1969. In 1970, Barker was medically retired.
Barker’s son followed in his footsteps and joined the U.S. Army to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. He served for 22 years before retiring as a master sergeant. His brick is placed right next to Barker’s in the plaza.
“I never knew what it was like as a parent,” said Barker about his son leaving to serve.
A roaring applause grew louder as Barker cozied into his new red, white and blue quilt, he smiled.
“I think all of us feel very honored,” said Barker. “I overused the words honored and humbled, but it’s literally how I feel. To be recognized for something like that is something we never expected.”