Two local veterans in their 90s were recipients of Quilts of Valor during the Community Veterans Day Celebration Wednesday evening at Philomath Scout Lodge.
U.S. Navy veteran Dalmon “Ed” Calcote, 99, and U.S. Marine Corps veteran David Bagley, 92, were both honored during a special presentation.
Calcote served as a Baker 1st Class aboard the USS Heermann in the South Pacific. The destroyer participated in several World War II campaigns, including those fought in the Philippines, Battle of Leyte Gulf and Iwo Jima.
The Heermann gained fame during the last stand of the “Tin Can Sailors,” in which she and several other destroyers of Task Force Taffy 3 engaged a far superior enemy task force during the Leyte Gulf in October 1944.
“Dalmon recently turned 99 years old this past year and lives in his home here in Philomath, Oregon, and we are certainly honored and privileged to be here in the presence of one of the greatest generations,” Eric Niemann told the audience during the program.
Bagley served in the Marine Corps from 1950-70 with combat tours in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Bagley, who would achieve the rank of captain, was part of the massive U.S. counteroffensive that consisted of an amphibious assault onto the beaches of Inchon during the Korean War in September 1950.
Bagley was unable to attend the event for health reasons.
Quilts of Valor is a nationwide effort established in 2003 to express admiration for veterans and honor their service by covering them with a handmade quilt. In April 2022, the foundation reached a major milestone by awarding its 300,000th quilt. In all, there are 600 groups across the country that participate, including the local/regional chapter.
In addition to the quilts presentation, three veterans were inducted into the Philomath Scout Lodge Veteran Memorial — James H. Myers (Army, master sergeant), Christine Ashley (Army, captain) and O.H. “Bane” Ashley (Army, lieutenant colonel), who was awarded two Silver Stars in 1966 for his actions in Vietnam.
Robert Bartlett, a Vietnam War veteran and son of a World War II veteran, gave a presentation entitled “Jumping Into Fire” as the featured event of the evening. Bartlett shared the fascinating history of the first all-Black U.S. Army Airborne Infantry Unit — specifically the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion and also known as the Triple Nickles.
Bartlett, who traveled to Philomath from Spokane, Washington, for the program, told the story about the unit’s secret military mission in the Pacific Northwest code-named “Operation Firefly.” The operation was in response to the threat of wildfires caused by Japanese balloon bombs arriving on the West Coast. The Triple Nickles completed 1,200 individual jumps on 36 fires from July to October 1945 while operating out of Oregon and California.
Following Bartlett’s presentation, the last living member of the Triple Nickles, JJ Corbett, was recognized with a special birthday card created by local artist Zina Allen. Corbett will turn 100 on Nov. 25 and the card will be sent to him at his home in Bartow, Florida.