ROY -- Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient Harry Malan knew something was up when his son, Ron, told him to be at the Hill Air Force Museum at 2:30 p.m. Friday, but he had no idea what.
Malan's children and grandchildren sat excitedly as they waited for him to make the long walk through the museum for him to be honored for his military service in Vietnam.
Malan was awarded with a large, hand-made Purple Heart quilt stitched by local quilt maker Janetta Killough. Killough and her daughter unfolded the quilt and showed off the intricacies to all in attendance as everyone stood and clapped. As Killough handed him the folded quilt, Malan hugged it to him and quietly sat down.
Killough got emotional as she explained her reasons for making the quilt.
"I have four children in the military and I just wanted to give back something," she said, choked with emotion.
Malan also said a few words to the crowd of friends, family and military gathered for the event.
"Thank you for your time and it was an honor to serve," he said. He also gave many thanks to what he called "the young military" dressed in fatigues sitting in rows to honor him. "Thank you to all of you and to all of those serving throughout the world."
Malan was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds he received in battle in 1966 and 1967 during the Vietnam War. He was presented the medal while he was still in the hospital, he remembers.
Now he will have a big reminder of that sacrifice with a hand-stitched quilt with a large Purple Heart design in the center. Malan continued to admire the quilt during a short reception held for him after the ceremony.
He laughed when he said he will be putting the quilt wherever his wife tells him to. Sandra Malan was thrilled at her husband's honor.
"It's a wonderful feeling and especially for him to be recognized for his efforts," she said.
"All of this is really for my buddies who didn't make it," Malan said of the honor he received Friday. "It's an inch for me and a yard for them."
He talked about the military and the different opinions people have of war and the military itself.
"Whether you like it or not, we have freedoms to come and go because of our military," he said.
Malan looks back on his military service in the Army with pride.
"Even though I was drafted, I am proud that I was able to serve. There a couple days I wish I would have missed, but it was something that had to be done," Harry said.
Richard Atkins, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant, serves with Killough's husband in the Boy Scouts of America. When Killough told Atkins she wanted to do some sort of service for a veteran but needed to know of a Purple Heart recipient to do the service for, Atkins went to work. He talked with fellow retired master sergeant Dave Calandra about Killough's idea and Calandra knew he wanted to find a Vietnam veteran.
"They don't get a lot of recognition and I knew that's what we wanted to do," Calandra said. He is good friends with Malan's son, Ron, who was thrilled with the idea. Calandra put Friday's reception together to honor both Killough and Malan.
"I thought it was a good idea," Ron Malan said. He admits his dad doesn't talk a lot about his service, but when he talks everyone in the family listens.
"This is a great honor for my dad," Ron said.
Killough said stitching the quilt took over a thousand hours and required the help of her daughter, aunt and cousin to get it done in the time she set for herself to finish. Killough is a full-time mom and nursing student who loves to quilt.
"I saw the design in a dream and I knew I had to do it," she said.
Malan said he takes special pride in the quilt because of the love that it was sewn with.
"I know she was thinking of those of her kids in the military while she sewed it. It's all love and hearts and that makes it all the more special to me," he said.
Sandra Malan said she would like to put the quilt in a case because it is so special and she would like everyone who comes to their Plain City home to see its beauty and intricacies.