Honoring the Memories and Sacrifices

St. Louis Gateway Chapter  •  Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge WWII  •  Saint Louis, Missouri

The Making of the Battle of the Bulge Quilt

     by Helen Keilholz

VBOB Quilt

In 1997 at one of the VBOB meetings, a veteran got up and announced that he wished someone would make a quilt from the arm patches. I had learned how to make a quilt about one year prior and thought, "I could do that."

At the next meeting, I told Kent Stephens I would make a quilt from the men's arm patches. I passed the word to the men that I needed their patches. They looked at me like "not my patches", they did not know me or what I would do with them.

Rudy Reitz called and asked if he could help me. I said yes, I need the patches and the men wouldn't give them to me. He said he would help me and he did. He encouraged the men to give him the patches. He traveled to numerous states and collected as many patches as he could. We worked together, figuring out what we still needed. Months were going by and our goal was to have it ready for the Christmas Banquet on December 16, 1998.

Rudy decided it would be nice to have the nicknames under the patches as well as the names. He did the research on them and finally we were ready for me to sew the quilt together. I had been collecting the patriotic material that I needed and proceeded to hand-sew the patches on a 6 1/2 inch block.

I asked my daughter-in-law Kelly if she would help me embroider the names on the blocks. My son, Ron said, "let me try to do it on the computer" and they did a fine job.

Rudy wanted the patches in a certain order. First the Army 1st, 3rd and 9th. All the men were covered under one of these, including the other patches. Then came the corps, air corps division, armored division and the tank destroyer division.

I had taken a class in transferring a photo on material and placed a picture of the front of the monument on the right corner and the back of the monument on the left corner. The VBOB logo was placed at top center under the wording: "Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge St. Louis Gateway Chapter".

My husband Paul was given a floral arrangement at the 50th Anniversary held in St. Louis, Missouri in 1994 with the flags of Belgium, United States and Luxembourg. I sewed these flags on the quilt.

Rudy was very pleased and said it turned out even better than he expected. It was an honor for me to have been allowed to make the quilt for the men who have given so much for their country.

Rudy Reitz passed away on April 17, 2005, but he is at peace because the veterans are taking very good care of the Battle of the Bulge Quilt which was a source of great pride to him.