Surprise quilts presented to Lemme family veterans

MILITARY VETERANS in the Lemme family received quilts on July Fourth from sewers who are also relatives. The recipients of the quilts were (front, left) Chad, Jerry, Wayne and Ralph Lemme, and their quilters were (back) Vicky, Virginia, JoAnn and Gayla Lemme. The quilts were surprise gifts to the men.

Quilters belonging to the Lemme family pulled off a big surprise during the Independence Day weekend for four military veterans who are also family members.

Vicky, Gayla, JoAnn and Virginia Lemme sewed individual, patriotic-themed quilts for Chad, Jerry, Ralph and Wayne Lemme in what Virginia said were collectively called the Quilts of Valor project.

The fabric creations were presented to the Lemme veterans during a brunch held in Wentworth on July Fourth. Virginia Lemme said the quilt-making was kept under wraps by their creators. The quilters divided up their work by having sewers make their quilts for veterans who weren't immediate family members.

Vicky Lemme sewed her quilt for Chad Lemme, who served in the U.S. Army from 2001-05 and was stationed in Iraq as an Army Reserves engineer specialist from 2008-09. Chad, a Brookings resident, was a member of the 153rd Engineer Company and 211th Sapper Company. During his service. he received a Combat Action Badge and Global War on Terrorism Medal.

Virginia Lemme created her quilt for Jerry Lemme, who served as an infantryman during Operation Desert Storm. A Dell Rapids resident, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1988 and served until December 1991. He later enlisted as a Guard airman and was assigned to the South Dakota Air National Guard in Sioux Falls. He was sent overseas to Iraq during 2005 with the Air National Guard

Jerry Lemme retired from the National Guard in April 2015 with the rank of E-7 Master Sergeant.

JoAnn Lemme stitched her quilt for Wayne Lemme, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1968-72. A Sioux Falls resident, he served as a hull-maintenance technician and was assigned, during part of his hitch in the service, to a San Diego base.

Lemme was also assigned to serve at bases on the Midway Islands for one year and in New London, Conn., for two years. He performed maintenance work on submarines in the U.S. fleets, which included the nation's first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus.

Gayla Lemme sewed her quilt for Ralph Lemme, who served from 1967-69 in the U.S. Army. A Holiday Island, Ark., resident, he served in the Vietnam War. He was drafted into the service and, after training, was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division. He received the Purple Heart and Silver Star medals and rose in rank from Private First Class to E-5 Sergeant.

The four veterans in the Lemme family range in age from 37 to 72.