After her father received an honor from the Quilts of Valor for his service in WWII, Moorestown resident Joanne Seltzer is getting to know him all over again.
“My father never talks about his service, never,” she said. “When we were children, you never told us stories of the service (she said to him) and since I’ve had to do a little bit of scratching around to get information, I’m learning things about his service that I never knew before. The Quilts of Valor have actually done more than just given him a quilt, they’ve also given me an insight into his life that he never talked about.”
According to their website, a Quilt of Valor is a quality, handmade quilt that is machine or hand quilted. It is awarded to a Service Member or Veteran who has been touched by war. The Quilt says, ‘Thank you for your service and sacrifice in serving our nation.’ The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover Service Members and Veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.
Seltzer explained how her 102-year-old father, Joseph Gerard Giardino, was chosen by the foundation to receive a quilt.
“A woman who lives in the same development that I live in heard about my dad and she works for this organization, which is a nation-wide organization called Quilts of Valor,” she said. “What they do is they hand-make and deliver quilts to Veterans, and they wrap the quilt around them as a way to provide them with a ‘thank you’ for their service.”
Giardino’s military service dates back to 1942, when he enlisted as an Apprentice Seaman. In 1943, he was assigned to the USS Morrison, and would take part in numerous campaigns supporting U.S. landings in the Marianas, Guam, the Marshalls and Okinawa. He would also assist in rescuing 400 survivors from the USS Princeton, which had been damaged by a Japanese bomb.
In 1944, he was transferred to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Treasure Island, California, where he received a diagnosis of Hydronephrosis in his right kidney. After getting his kidney removed, he was assigned to perform limited duty within the U.S. In 1945, the USS Morrison was struck by a Japanese kamikaze and sunk north-west of Okinawa. Over 15o crew members were killed and 87 were wounded. Giardino shared how he discovered the news.
“I was on the subway in Brooklyn, New York. I was coming back from one of my duties and I had a newspaper and I saw it in the newspaper,” he said. “The ship was gone and I was destroyed, I was shattered.”
Giardino spent a large part of his life living in Italy, including working for Radio Free Europe, but eventually came back to the U.S. to live with his family. He explained how serving in the military has always stayed with him.
“(It’s) funny about the war …the war was a long time ago, at least 75 years, and some of the events begin to fade, but there are some events that never fade,” Giardino said. “Some things burn into you more than others.”
The Quilts of Valor honored Giardino on July 31. For more information on the foundation, visit https://www.qovf.org.