Ralph Capristo, a 92-year-old World War II combat veteran from Wilkes-Barre who resides at the Community Living Center at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center, was awarded a Quilt of Valor from Columbia County Quilts of Valor members.
Quilts of Valor is an organization dedicated to making quilts for all American soldiers and veterans. It all started when a mother of a soldier sent to Iraq had a dream about a wounded serviceman that was comforted by someone wrapping a quilt around him. She thought it would be a good idea to make quilts for all service men and women.
The Quilt of Valor is given to say thank you for all the service and sacrifice given while serving our nation.
As of today, more than 180,000 quilts have been awarded. Bonnie Fielder and her husband, Jim, travel throughout Pennsylvania making presentations to our veterans. The quilt which was presented to Capristo was sewn by Rita Strickler and Jill Shaw, both of Pennsylvania, and took 80 hours to complete.
Capristo served his time in Europe as an army scout in the 353 Infantry Regiment of the 89th Division of General Patton’s 3rd Army. As his army was sweeping across France and Germany, Ralph’s job was to check ahead for enemy activity.
Needless to say, it was a very dangerous assignment. On April 4th, 1945, Ralph’s unit helped liberate the Ohrdruf concentration camp. It was the first concentration camp liberated by the Americans.
Ralph served valiantly, witnessing the death of many of his comrades very close to him. Ralph was awarded two Bronze Stars and was discharged in June of 1946 with the rank of corporal.
Can we ever thank Veterans such as Ralph enough?
Probably not, but we can try.
Joseph D. Vnuk