WILMINGTON — It wasn’t a surprise party, but part of it had been kept under wraps — and ended up wrapping up a birthday celebration in more ways than one.
Friends gathered downtown at the South Street Wine Cellar Tuesday evening enjoying wine and Wisconsin cheese and celebrating the birthday of U.S. Air Force Col. (Ret.) Robert “Bob” Baylor, who served from 1985 to 2007.
But in a surprise ceremony, he was presented a handmade quilt by Quilts of Valor Foundation local volunteer Joanne “Mumsie” Weston, who told the News Journal, “Not only is Robert well-liked, but he is also someone whom many look to for help and guidance and is often the first in line to offer help.”
At the end of the presentation, Weston wrapped the quilt around Baylor.
“This means a lot,” Baylor told attendees before sharing a story.
“I was in Desert Storm and I was also in Iraqi Freedom, so I was in two wars,” Baylor said. “When I was in Desert Storm, I was sitting downrange kind of wondering what was going to happen next, and I got this package.
“I’m like, ‘What’s this package?’
“They said it’s a morale package; it was from somebody who just sent these packages for some soldier, marine, airman, or sailor. And it meant so much to me. It was nothing more than a package of cookies and a bag of chips and a few other things. But it made me feel like, what I was doing, I wasn’t forgotten downrange.”
He continued, “When you guys do these things it means so much to everybody. Not just to the vet who’s getting it, but to all the veterans, it means a lot.
“Some of you had relatives, friends, family who were in Vietnam. They didn’t get this; what they got wasn’t anything close to this. Try to remember, it’s really important what you’ve done for us, and thank you so much for what you’re doing. I’ll try to honor this always,
“It means so much that my friends are all here, and it’s a heck of a good 57th birthday present! Thank you so much.”
Before presenting the quilt, Weston presented a plaque to Baylor, reading the words that included, “Quilts of Valor Foundation wishes to recognize you for your service to our nation. We consider it a privilege to honor you” and “we may never know the extent of your sacrifices and service to protect and defend the United States of America.”
The mission of the national organization, founded in 2003 by Catherine Roberts, the mother of a service member, is “to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.”