Join our brand new verified AMN Telegram channel and get important news uncensored!

Veteran awarded Quilt of Valor for place in Marine Corps lore

This Quilt of Valor was created over a nine-month period by quilt topper Helen Ruiz of Dover, Del., to award to a U.S. Navy Seal to give him comfort in his recovery from war wounds. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Released / Courtesy photo/Ms. Helen Ruiz)

As thrilled as he was to be awarded a Quilt of Valor, Rick Spooner didn’t feel entitled to any honors, believing his only achievement was getting old.

“I don’t consider being old the thing I’m most proud of,” said the 96-year-old. “The thing I am most proud of is being a Marine. Everyone can be old if they live long enough, but not everyone can be a Marine.”

Anyone who knows about Spooner’s storied past probably recognizes the place the man known as “The Major” has in Marine Corps lore — and why he’s a fitting quilt recipient. The Quilts of Valor Foundation has awarded more than 348,500 such blankets to service members and veterans with the goal of wrapping them in a healing and comforting embrace.

While the foundation honors veterans of various ranks, years of service and specialties, Spooner is a rarity, as he’s served in three wars.

“It’s becoming more and more rare, that’s for sure,” said Ret. Marine Col. Walt Ford, whose wife, Sharon, made the quilt. “There’s not many World War II veterans left, and then three-war Marines are very rare.”

Then, after he finished his military service, Spooner started serving up Marine Corps history lessons along with steak and ale, at the well-known Globe & Laurel Restaurant, now in North Stafford.

“He’s a walking Marine Corps history himself,” Ford said.

Richard “Rick” Spooner was 17 when he joined the Marines in World War II, with his parents’ permission. Less than a year later, he was among the 8,000 Marine infantrymen who landed on Saipan on June 15, 1944. He was captured by Japanese forces but managed to escape, then went on to participate in assaults on Tinian and the Battle of Okinawa.

Spooner also served during the Korean and Vietnam wars, and retired after 29 years. Even before he left the service, Spooner and his late wife, Gloria, operated the popular Globe & Laurel Restaurant.

Initially in the town of Quantico, the business relocated to Triangle after a fire, and into Stafford County when the Triangle property was seized for the expansion of U.S. 1.

Spooner retired from the restaurant business in 2020 at the spry age of 93 — and said last week he wishes he still worked there. He’s had a few strokes, apologizes for his speech, but talks in a strong voice, and his comments are organized and articulate.

He’s maintained his connection, with those who served with him, his son — also a retired Marine major — and others who visited the Globe & Laurel for a bite to eat and a glance at photos of Marines through history.

In a 2007 Free Lance — Star story about the place, a former policeman and regular customer said he felt like he earned three credits of continuing education by going there for lunch. The walls and tables were decorated with Marine memorabilia including shoulder patches and sidearms, a bugle and drum, canteen, trench knives and sharpshooter badges from the past three centuries.

Ford never served with Spooner, but met The Major after Ford retired from the Marines and began editing Leatherneck Magazine. The two have remained friends for more than three decades, and when Ford and his wife were visiting recently from their home in South Carolina, Spooner’s daughter, Anna, mentioned that her dad needed a quilt. Spooner lives with her, in Triangle.

Sharon Ford has made more than 30 Quilts of Valor, and she nominated Spooner through the foundation’s website, then completed his blanket in a couple weeks. She typically doesn’t make quilts that specify the recipient’s service branch — they’re more of a general patriotic theme — but she went above and beyond on this one.

“He’s been a special friend of ours,” she said. “We highly respect him and all that he stands for.”

Spooner’s quilt includes the Marine Corps memorial, the Constitution, American flag and Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate bridge because he’s from San Francisco, and his favorite bird, the eagle.

Spooner was surprised by the recent presentation and said later that he was pleased, grateful and amazed. He remembers years ago, watching his mother and grandmother quilting, and recognized even then how much work was involved.

The fact that there are quilters across the country “who have done such a wonderful thing for old-timers and veterans like myself” touched him, he said.

“We don’t expect anything, but when we do get something like this, it’s very very meaningful,” he said. “I’ve put it on a bed and am using it and will continue to do so. I’m so proud every time I see it.”

Often, a local chapter of the Quilts of Valor Foundation gets involved with a presentation, but the Fords went through their home chapter in Rock Hill, S.C. The foundation often crosses state lines to honor servicemembers and veterans, said Madonna Rabatin, who coordinates efforts in the mid-Atlantic region, including Virginia.

Fredericksburg doesn’t have a Quilts of Valor chapter, and Rabatin would love to get one organized. The Northern Neck Patriotic Piercers are based in Reedville and the Common Threads of Louisa in that county. More information on state chapters can be found at the foundation’s website,

Fredericksburg is home to the Virginia Star Quilters, whose members make quilts for several organizations, including the Quilts of Valor. Each quilt must be registered on the foundation website and be recognized as a Quilt of Valor.

The Virginia Star Quilters also creates and awards “Honor Quilts” to local recipients. Monthly meetings are held throughout the year and usually on the third Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at the Lee Hill Community Center. There’s an “open sew” the same day, starting at 10 a.m. More information is available on their website at

The Virginia chapter of Quilts of Valor awards about 350 quilts per year. The organization never gives a quilt, but awards it as a lifetime achievement, said Harvey Mayhill, an Air Force veteran and area representative for the Quilts of Valor in Rock Hill, S.C., where the Fords are based.

While there aren’t many veterans who have had the same military experience as Spooner, Mayhill said the Quilts of Valor Foundation treats all who have served the same. The understanding is every link in the chain has a purpose and deserves respect, he said.

Mayhill likes to put it this way.

“For veterans who have been in a war zone, like The Major has, if you’ve been there, no explanation is necessary,” he said. “If you’ve not been there, no explanation is possible.”


(c) 2023 The Free Lance-Star

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.