They've been honored in a ceremony, welcomed back by family and enjoyed 30 days of leave.
On Wednesday the 35 members of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 705th Military Police Battalion Forward received one more recognition for the recent completion of their nine-month deployment to Kuwait — a handmade quilt.
“It's like Christmas in July,” joked Lt. Col. Rolanda Colbert, commander of the larger 705th MP Battalion.
The 53 quilts — individually picked according to order of rank, lowest to highest — were constructed by members of the Kansas City Area Bee of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, a group founded by Delaware resident Catherine Roberts to provide handmade quilts to combat service members and veterans.
“We're kind of like the Army in a way — we're on a mission,” said Raylene Mason, a volunteer with the Kansas City Area Bee who helped coordinate the effort for the 705th.
Scattered throughout the Kansas City area from Platte City to Johnson County, members of the bee work as individuals or in small groups, but always manage to get the job done. When organizers of this effort asked for additional quilts, she said they appeared soon after.
Mason said she attended the deployment ceremony in 2012 for the unit, and had approached the commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 56 in Leavenworth, Dallas Eubanks, and Colbert about making quilts for the soldiers.
Lynn Rolf, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 56, said it was the sort of gesture soldiers of his generation were not afforded upon returning from the Vietnam War — he said he came home to insults.
“My generation has said that will never happen again,” he said.
The 35 members of the HHC 705th MP Battalion Forward returned in mid-June from a deployment to Kuwait, where they had run the Theater Field Confinement Facility since August 2012. Pfc. Shaun Ealy, the first to get the change to pick out a quilt, said the experience was a special one for him. Having only been in the Army for about a year and a half, it was a unique way to mark the end of his first deployment.
“It's nice, it shows we're appreciated,” he said of the Quilts of Valor presentation.
The idea was one that Colbert said she was immediately supportive of. She said her grandmother was a quilter, and she always appreciated the care with which she put the different patterns together.
“Her handmade quilts are still a cherished possession of mine,” Colbert said.
She said the presentation of the quilts was a sort of culmination of the 705th's most recent deployment.
Page 2 of 2 - Since 2003, Quilts of Valor members have awarded more than 87,000 quilts to current or veteran members of the military, Mason said. With each of the quilts, the group includes a personalized name tag, instructions on laundering and a bag in which to store the quilt, though she said she hoped they didn't use that last item that much.
“If we had it our way, you wouldn't put it on the shelf and just forget about it,” Mason said. “We hope you'll use your quilt, at least from time to time. We hope you'll wrap yourself up in it.”