LIMA — World War II veteran and Lima resident Robert Bohyer was presented with a Quilt of Valor Friday for his service in the United States Air Force.
Bohyer, who turns 94 Sunday, received a surprise visit from Quilts of Valor Foundation officials Friday in his Lima home where he was presented with the quilt and a certificate thanking him for his service.
Each quilt is formed by loving hands, joining bits of fabric together one piece at a time, according to Nancy McMurtrey, Quilts of Valor Foundation district coordinator for Northern Ohio.
“I’m surprised to receive this honor and had never heard of Quilts of Valor,” Bohyer said. He has a son and two daughters and 14 grandchildren. His wife, Mary Kathryn, died in 2002.
Bohyer enlisted Sept. 25, 1943, in the U.S. Air Force and was part of Lt. Edward C. Unger’s crew who ferried the B-17 “Grand” over the European Theater of Operations. He flew out of Sudbury, England, Squadron 486 Bomb Group for 10 missions and in 1943 was transferred to Foggia, Italy, and flew another 25 missions with Bomb Group 483.
He got out of the war in 1945 and married in 1946.
Bohyer’s son, David, who lives in Elgin, Illinois, saw a story about Quilts of Valor in a newspaper article a month ago and recommended his dad receive a quilt.
“He is a veteran and we are very thankful for him and all of the other people who have served our country in the war,” David Bohyer said.
Bohyer’s youngest daughter, Rebecca Yazel, said with tears in her eyes that the family is proud of their father.
“For years he didn’t talk about his service, like many of them don’t. Within the last 10 years he has been able to open up and it is important for it to be shared,” Yazel said.
Bohyer recalls his years of service in the Air Force.
“I was 18 years old when I was drafted. I was a tail gunner on the B-17 fighter plane where I rode in the back of the bomber plane and shot two machine guns at the enemy’s planes,” Bohyer said.
He even signed his name on the plane with others who also served on the plane. It was called Five Grand, a B-17 plane built by Boeing. He has a scrapbook in his home with photos of the plane, a photo of him with Bob Dole and made a replica of his fighter jacket.
“A lot of guys I fought in the war with didn’t come back, but I thank the Lord that I did,” Bohyer said.
There were 10 people on his Five Grand crew, and he is the only one still living.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.