One war and a lifetime ago

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By Brian Garner

Jane Oneppo first received a Quilt of Valor in 2014. Now, three years later, fittingly on the 76th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the WWII veteran’s quilt was re-dedicated and she was again thanked for the service she provided.

Oneppo was a member of the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) a division of the U.S. Navy from 1941 to 1944. She served as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate. (See related story about her military service elsewhere in this issue).

A delegation, composed of members of several Chester County veterans organizations and Harvey Mayhill representing the Quilts of Valor Foundation arrived at Oneppo’s home in Edgemoor to perform the re-dedication ceremony on Thursday.

Oneppo, now 95 years old, met the veterans representatives while seated in the recliner in her living room.

When she told Mayhill a little about her service as a Machinist’s Mate, he commented, “you didn’t go the Rosie the Riveter route (referring to the iconic image of women who assembled planes and other wartime material), you went the actual route, into the Navy,” he said.

Mayhill, from Rock Hill, explained the purpose and history of the Quilts of Valor. He then showed Oneppo a copy of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin with the headline ‘War! Oahu Bombed By Japanese Planes’.

Oneppo said she was in basic training in Cedar Falls, Iowa when Pearl Harbor took place on December 7, 1941. “That was a scary time,” she recalled.

“Jane, I understand you received a Quilt of Valor a few years ago (it was in 2014, as reported by The News & Reporter). All of these other people,” Mayhill said, indicating the veterans organizations representatives, “they thought you needed a Quilt of Valor also, but we can only award one. But we will re-dedicate the quilt you already have today.”

“Today is really special, because it is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. That’s when the war was declared. That makes re-dedicating this quilt for you today very special,” he said.

Mayhill then read the citation on the certificate which reads: “On behalf of the Quilts of Valor Foundation in recognition of your service and sacrifice for this nation, it is a privilege to serve honor and comfort upon you through the award of the Quilt of Valor. Though we may never know the depth of your sacrifice to protect and defend the United States of America, as a gesture of gratitude from a grateful nation, we award you this Quilt of Valor.”

Once Mayhill had re-presented the Quilt of Valor to Jane Oneppo, he joined the other veterans organization representatives by rendering honors to her by hand salute, and though she may be 95, Oneppo’s returned salute was probably as sharp and crisp as it used to be on the training field in Iowa one war and a lifetime ago.