It wasn’t all that cold in Rock Hill on Monday, but two self-described “old soldiers” were warmed up anyway by a pair of Quilts of Valor designed to comfort combat veterans.
What they received was a lot more than a blanket.
“It’s an honor to get this,” said John Rockholt, 86, a Chester County native who was only 16 when he lied about his age to join the Navy during World War II. He went on to see combat in the Korean War.
Rockholt is a tough guy who still has a handshake of iron.
Beside him stood James Taylor, 76, who still looks like he could whip the Islamic State terrorists all by himself with nothing more than a Bowie knife and a pistol.
“Call me Jim,” said Taylor, a guy’s guy.
Taylor is one of just 78 living recipients of the Medal of Honor, the highest award the military gives. The retired Army major received his in 1968 after saving the men of his troop during an ambush in Vietnam. He got five wounded men to safety and then went back. He saved more and went back. He was wounded himself and went back.
Taylor, who has stood with generals and presidents, is an American hero – but on Monday he was just as thrilled to meet Rockholt.
“I am honored to stand here with this great American,” Taylor said.
The two men were presented the quilts in a ceremony at the Springs Creative offices in downtown Rock Hill. Rockholt’s daughter works for Springs. Taylor is from northern California, but his grandson, Mark, and his family live in Rock Hill.
Taylor thought he was there Monday just to present a quilt to Rockholt, but the group surprised him with a quilt of his own.
“For a veteran, there is no feeling like knowing that your country cares for you and loves you,” Taylor said.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation is a volunteer organization that has given more than 100,000 quilts to combat veterans over the past 11 years.
Twenty York County volunteers, some of whom learned how to quilt just for this project, met at Springs Creative in Rock Hill for months to sew the quilts for Rockholt and Taylor. The volunteers of this “Open Hearts” group – some Springs employees, some just people who wanted to help – spent lunch hours and time after work putting together the quilts.
Springs Creative provided materials and equipment. The women who sewed the quilts provided the love.
“It was an honor to be a part of this,” said Kristine Nelson, a product manager at Springs Creative, who helped put together the quilts.
What united all these people was a chance to help veterans.
The quilters all went up after the ceremony and hugged Rockholt and Taylor, because Taylor had told the crowded room he wanted hugs – and nobody denies Jim Taylor.
But when it comes to thanks, Rockholt and Taylor do not joke. They thanked the women who sewed the quilts.
“It’s an honor to meet you who made this for me,” Taylor said to each of the quilters.