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Veterans honored with Quilts of Valor

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By The Staff

When members of the Quilt A Holics quilting group found themselves looking for a new project, they chose to make a Quilt of Valor. Members made blocks on their own, then they put them together to form a quilt.
Since June 2015, the group has made five quilts.
These quilts were presented on Wednesday to Sun City residents and World War II veterans Fred Banks, Pat Cassetta, Donald Comstock, Jack Shumaker and Dollie Steele.

Fred Banks
Born in Gallatin, Tenn., Fred Banks grew up in Louisville, Ky. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps after high school and married his high school sweetheart, Patty, while stationed in Monroe, La.
Banks was commissioned and assigned to the 15th Air Force in Italy. While there, he participated in 32 combat missions as a navigator on a B-24 bomber. He was awarded three Air Medals and the European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal.
His active-duty service ended in 1945, but Banks remained in the reserves until 1952. He worked in marketing for General Electric for 25 years before retiring in 1980.

Pat Cassetta
Pat Cassetta was born in Rome, Italy, but grew up in New York City. At 16, he lied about his age and enlisted in the Marines.
After training at Paris Island, Cassetta was a machine gunner for the First Marine Division. He fought in Okinawa and Saipan and was preparing to invade Japan with his unit when the war ended.
Cassetta volunteers his time to teach students about the Marines and World War II. He has also been instrumental in the construction of military monuments for veterans.

Donald Comstock
Born in Rockford, Ill., Don Comstock enlisted in the Navy in his senior year of high school. He completed his studies while attending boot camp, then studied at the Aviation Maintenance School in Norman, Okla. He was designated Aviation Machinist Mate and was stationed at the Naval Air Auxillary Station Hollister, a training center.
Comstock later volunteered to crew the U.S.S. Bunker Hill, an escort carrier bound for the Pacific Theater. The war ended while the Bunker Hill was still enroute to the Pacific.
He was recalled to active duty during the Korean War and stationed in Jacksonville, Fla., where he handled discharges and retirements.
Following his service, Comstock worked for the U.S. Post Office, beginning as a mail carrier and retiring as the manager of plant maintenance.

Jack Shumaker
Jack Shumaker was born in Bluefield, W.Va., and married his high school sweetheart, Melva, in 1942. He was drafted into the Army less than a year later and was assigned to the 26th Division.
Shumaker’s unit was one of the first waves of troops to land in France after D-Day. He was a heavy machine gunner and his unit was sent to the front lines immediately after landing in Cherbourg. After several skirmishes, his batallion surrendered to the Germans. Shumaker and his fellow soldiers were loaded on trains and sent to Parchim POW camp. The camp was liberated in May 1945 by Russian troops, and the unit returned to France to rest, then were sent home to New York City.
Upon his return, Shumaker learned he had become a father to a healthy baby boy. He also had two more children, both daughters, and now has 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He worked as a machinist in the coal industry for 37 years before retiring.

Dollie Steele
Born in Canfield, Ohio, Dollie Steele trained to be a nurse at St. Elizabeth Hospital. After watching a Memorial Day parade in 1945 which included Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service), she enlisted at age 21.
After training, she attended Hospital Corps School at Camp Moffat in Illinois before being stationed at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Corvallis, Ore. She cared for wounded service members from the Pacific Theater and served as a dental assistant. She was awarded the World War II Victory Medal.
After her service, she married John L. Steele, who had served in Europe with the Army’s 80th Signal Corp. She worked as a bookkeeper before retirement and was actively involved with her local school system.