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Walt Siffringer, second from left, receives a Quilt of Valor during an assembly at Liberty Middle School, where his great-granddaughter, Erica Abend, is a student. In the photo, the presentation included Abend, from left, Siffringer, American Legion Vice Commander Jean Downs, and Liberty School Nurse and Student 2 Student Sponsor Benita Tunstill. CONTRIBUTED

World War II, Korea veteran Walt Siffringer accepts Quilt of Valor

MADISON – Walt Siffringer, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, recently received the Quilt of Valor during the Veterans Day assembly at Liberty Middle School.

The Quilt of Valor Foundation honors service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. In 2003, Catherine Roberts founded the organization while her son Nat was deployed in Iraq. Roberts was inspired by a dream with the message, “Quilts equal healing.” (qovf.org)

“We chose Liberty because his great-granddaughter, Erica Abend, is a student there. Post 229 put him in the Huntsville Veterans Day Parade,” Jean Downs said. Downs is Vice Commander of American Legion, Post 229.

Liberty’s Student 2 Student or S2S organization hosted 94-year-old Siffringer and other veterans for a luncheon and assembly. “They did an outstanding job. Walt was so touched by the entire event and appreciated the recognition so much,” Downs said.

Marty Kent and Mary Harris with Quilts of Valor Foundation, North Alabama region presided at the presentation.

Siffringer was born in 1928 in Buffalo, N.Y. He and wife Ethel Hodierne Siffringer have been married for 60 years. They are parents of Maureen and the late Eric and have two granddaughters, Laura and Christy, and two great-granddaughters, Erica and Halie.

Walt Siffringer served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force between 1944 and 1962 for a total of 13.5 years, with a few breaks during that time. During World War II, he served as an Army Transportation Specialist from 1944-1947 in Italy and Austria with the 88th Infantry Division.

He then served from 1950-1953 during the Korean War and returned to Korea from 1955-1958 in the Army Corps of Engineers and Security. Siffringer finished his military service from 1958-1962 with Air Police Security at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, N.Y.

Siffringer’s final Army rank was Sergeant; for Air Force, he was Airman First Class.

Siffringer returned to New York and worked with disabled children as an orthopedic shoe fitter until his retirement. Walt and Ethel now live at Madison Crossings.

He attempted to enlist at 16 years old, but officials realized his age and sent him home. He waited a few months until May 1944 when he turned 17 and successfully joined.

Siffringer attended basic training in Anniston. “With a huge push to get fresh soldiers to the front, Walt’s entire basic training was only two weeks. Then he was on a ship headed for Italy,” Downs said.

Landing in Italy, the Leaning Tower of Pisa was one of his first sights. The 88th pushed north to Trieste. Siffringer’s unit later joined VI Corps and proceeded through Bavaria into Innsbruck, Austria in the Italian Alps.

His best military experience was “all of it . . . an incredible experience and he’d do it again. He regrets not returning to Army service for the Vietnam War,” Downs said.

His experience in Korea was much worse than World War II. He hated the cold and could never get warm. “I’ll never forget that,” Siffringer said.

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