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Chattanooga family to be reunited with keepsake military quilt blown away by tornado

A tornado (Justin Hobson/Wikimedia Commons/Released)

Just over a week after a tornado ravaged her home, Beulah Lockmiller will soon be reunited with her husband’s military quilt that was blown away, and she is thrilled.

Her husband, Larry Lockmiller, died about 10 years ago. A family member made him the quilt after he returned from deployment to Operation Desert Storm while serving in the National Guard, and Beulah Lockmiller kept it stored in a protective plastic pouch inside her dresser.

Times Free Press photographer Troy Stolt photographed the quilt on April 14 while documenting the damage in the Drake Forest neighborhood. It wasn’t far from Beulah Lockmiller’s house, but Stolt had no idea whose quilt it was. After the family saw his photo published, they contacted Stolt — who helped them find the location, but the quilt was no longer there.


On Wednesday, Pilar Estrada made a Facebook post.

“Hello to all my friends,” she wrote. “today I want to take a min to make this special Post.”

She said she and her son had been doing community service in the East Brainerd area when her son found the quilt.

“[F]or a min my son wanted to keep it but he realized that it was custom made for someone special, so he and I decided make this post to try to find the owner of this blanket and to give back to the right owner,” she said.

Within about 50 minutes, the post made it back around to the Lockmillers.

“It’s kind of unbelievable just like everything else that’s happened this week, but I’m just so excited,” Beulah Lockmiller said. “To think that someone had a heart to return it just means a lot to me.”

The reunion will take place Thursday afternoon.

“Thank you so much to all the people who helping share this post, I’m so happy that I found the owner we are going to meet to give them back the blanket,” Estrada posted to Facebook after getting in touch with the Lockmillers.

Beulah Lockmiller said she didn’t think she would ever find the quilt. But now that she has, she’s going to keep it extra secure.

“I don’t know where I’m gonna put it,” she said. “I’m gonna protect it so if I have to put it in a 5,000-pound safe.”


© 2020 the Chattanooga Times/Free Press