Quilts honor service

Salem police officer Mike Garber received a K-9 bed for his partner K-9 Simon and a quilt. (Salem News photo by Deanne Johnson)

LISBON — Their stories included numerous years of selfless service both overseas and at home, but more than 40 people and four K-9 dogs were honored Sunday during the annual Service of Recognition at the Columbiana County Fairgrounds.

Coordinated with the annual 9/11 service in front of the flagpole, the annual event again gave those in attendance a chance to say thank you to those who fought, served or currently do their work to make life better for those in America. Quilts and K-9 beds made with love and patriotism by local members of the community were presented to those in attendance.

This year’s honorees included two World War II veterans, Robert Fife and John Bistrica. Bistrica landed in Normandy on Omaha Beach (Easy Red) on June 6, 1944. He has a recorded oral history at the Eisenhower Center in New Orleans D-Day Museum about the two attack waves he was involved in on D-Day. Bistrica received a standing ovation at the event.

Fife, was a member of the 77th Seabee Battalion in the South Pacific during World War II.

Those honored included those who fought in Vietnam, Korea and Iraq, those served in peace time and those currently serve with local police, fire and first responders. The nurses and medics who cared for injured soldiers were also represented in those receiving quilts on Sunday. Some in attendance continue to serve, providing help to returning veterans, serving in their local VFW or Legion groups, and providing military funerals for those who also served.

During an annual 9/11 service of recognition at the Columbiana County Fairgrounds on Sunday, Sgt. Donny Johnson of the East Palestine Police Department, above, received a quilt and a quilted dog bed for K-9 Toney. Presenting him the handmade items are Ginger Riffee, the quilter, and Michalia Ayers. (Salem News photo by Deanne Johnson)

For the first time, the annual event also included some quilts presented posthumously. Jerry Ray Reed, who was from East Liverpool, served in Vietnam and later returned to his family. Besides his two sons and his adopted son, Reed and his wife fostered 46 children through the years. His bladder cancer was linked to Agent Orange.

Some were injured. Some left friends and comrades behind on battle fields.

Prior to the quilt presentations, most attended the 9/11 service in the fairgrounds. It was a chance to reflect on the attack that changed America 16 years ago and sent more men and women into harm’s way to protect and stop threats to our freedom.