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Ohio Township man receives Quilt of Valor

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:31 p.m.
Presenting Warren Goss of Ohio Township, far left, with the Quilt of Valor are, from left, Harry VanRiper of Gibsonia, Bonnie Purcell of Ross Township and Barbara Kimmich of Gibsonia. Submitted photo

It was something Warren Goss didn't expect, but was much appreciated, he said.

Goss and his wife, Mary, of Ohio Township, and their daughter, Paula Zanotti of Sewickley, attended a dinner given by Sentinels of Freedom, an organization based at Christ Church at Grove Farm in Ohio Township and dedicated to helping injured post-Sept. 11, 2001, veterans regain their independence.

They were there to help honor the organization's newest Sentinel scholarship winner, Brandon Rumbaugh, 23, of Uniontown, who served as Marine Corps corporal in Afghanistan and lost both of his legs. Rumbaugh was given a quilt from the Quilt of Valor Foundation to thank him for his service.

Goss said the Sentinels are helping Rumbaugh go back to college.

What Goss didn't realize was that after serving 68 years ago in World War II and coming back as one of the survivors of the Normandy invasion, he, too, would receive a Quilt of Valor at the dinner.

Goss, 87, said the honor was a surprise, and he was called up to accept the quilt, which was made by the women in the organization. Bonnie Purcell, foundation member, said she received a request from Harry VanRiper, head of the Sentinel Program in Pittsburgh, to present the quilt not only to Rumbaugh but to Goss as well.

“He is definitely a hero and qualifies as a combat veteran who has been touched by war,” she said.

VanRiper agreed.

“Warren is a hero and of a vanishing breed,” he said.

Quilts are awarded to any serviceman, servicewoman or veteran who has served in a combat zone from any war or conflict or who has been wounded either physically or mentally.

Quilts can be requested through the QOV website at www.qovf.org.

The quilts are made by about 25 women in the group who meet from 7 to 9 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at The Quilt Company, 3940 Middle Road, Allison Park.

Since 2003, QOVF has become a national grassroots community service effort, connecting the homefront with wounded combat warriors and veterans. Since then, more than 68,000 quilts have been awarded to service members/veterans nationwide. North Pittsburgh Chapter of Quilts of Valor started in September 2010 and has made 100 quilts since that time to honor service men and women across the country.

Goss, drafted in 1943, said he trained for a month in England to prepare for Normandy invasion with the 531st Special Brigade, an engineer battalion. He also saw action in the Battle of the Bulge and the Ruhr River and eventually went into Germany for the Nazi's surrender.

Since he returned home, he said he never talked about his experiences.

“My mother and dad are gone and my sister and brother, and they don't know about anything I did,” said Goss, who received a Bronze Star and three Bronze Arrowheads for major battles.

His daughter didn't know about any of his war memories until recently, either.

But, his reluctancy to talk about the war changed when a friend he worked with asked him to speak at Shaler Area High School.

From there, he was asked twice to speak at Seneca Valley High School and spoke at Osborne Elementary School about a year ago.

He also has talked about World War II with his grandson, Andrew, 24, who is discharged from the Marines after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Goss, a member of Sewickley Senior Men's Club, said Andrew has had similar experiences and they have talked and become closer.

VanRiper, who was wounded in Vietnam 44 years ago, said Goss also has been invited to tell his story at Community College of Allegheny County's north campus, where VanRiper works, for a veteran's panel for Veterans Day.

“I did it for Veterans Day 2010. It turned out to be quite a healing experience for me,” he said.

For more information about the Quilts of Valor Foundation, contact Purcell at 412-366-7269, bonnie535@verizon.net.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 orjbarron@tribweb.com.

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