QUINCY -- A Quincy World War II veteran was honored in a ceremony Wednesday at the Illinois Veterans Home.
Albert T. Thompson, 96, was presented with a red, white, and blue quilt, known as a Quilt of Valor, by Rich Morris, a representative of the Tri-County Quilts of Valor organization.
In the presentation, attended by his friends and family, Morris said the Quilt of Valor's many colors and shapes represent the diversity of America's armed forces. The batting, or middle layer, provides warmth and comfort. The back symbolizes the strength of the support found on the home front among military families, veteran groups and others.
"A Quilt of Valor is not a charity quilt," Morris said. "We know there are not enough words to ever adequately say thank you, but we hope this quilt provides a tangible way for us to express our thanks."
Morris said more than 225,000 quilts have been made and given to veterans and active duty military personnel since Quilts of Valor was started in 2003.
"This is just fantastic," Thompson said after receiving the quilt. "I am going to do everything in my power to be worthy of such an honor."
His brother, Richard Thompson, said Albert has already demonstrated how worthy of the honor he is.
"In my mind, he is a very well-kept secret in Quincy, but he shouldn't be," Richard Thompson said. "He is a veteran. He is a community servant. He worked for years with different organizations."
Albert Thompson enlisted in the U.S. Army as a 17-year-old Quincy resident. After completing basic training in Virginia, he went overseas with the 452nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion. He saw combat in Normandy in northern France and elsewhere in Europe.
The 452nd was an all-black mobile anti-aircraft unit. Despite consisting of fewer than 1,000 enlisted men, the unit is credited with downing 88 German warplanes, 68 of which were fully confirmed kills and 19 partially confirmed kills, military historians say.
The battalion also participated in the Battle of the Bulge and was part of Gen. George S. Patton's defense of the Belgian city, Bastogne.
Thompson returned to the United States shortly before the conclusion of the war in Europe in 1945.
He graduated from Quincy Senior High School with a GED. He married Eleanor Jenkins, who is deceased.
Thompson is a member of First Baptist Church of Quincy.
He retired as a foreman and supervisor with Electric Wheel, a division of Firestone Tire.
Thompson was a member of the Quincy Police and Fire Board for many years and would also serve as a board member for the Quincy Family YMCA.
Until January, he lived in the 500 block of Cherry Street. He now lives at the Illinois Veterans Home.
"Hopefully this recognition will help the community learn a little bit about the kind of man he is," Richard Thompson said Wednesday.