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Jimmie D. Keller, Local Navy Veteran; Touched by War and Honored with Quilt of Valor

By Marsha Woods   Pictures By Janet Baker    
Valor is defined as an act of great courage in the face of danger or battle.  The feat is rarely acknowledged and is usually modestly hidden by those who perform the deed.
Navy Veteran, Jimmie D. Keller, US NAVY QMQ3, was reminded of his spirit of dedication to the brotherhood of not only his fellow Veterans, but his country by being the recipient of the coveted Quilt of Honor presented to him in solemn ceremony at the Weiser Senior Citizens.
Jimmy functioned as Quarter Master-Signalman (QMS) on what is called a Tin Can Destroyer during the Korean War.  He served that capacity from April 1948 until February of 1953.  His duties were extensive. As Quartermaster, he was assigned the “watch to “watch” navigation of the destroyer; the responsibility was hugely focused on a safe routing.  As the ships Signalman, he sent and decoded flag signals to other ships, deciphering said signals and relaying them to ships officers.  In the days before technology, Jimmie says that his communication and navigational skills were simply “guided by the stars.”
After his honorable discharge, Jimmie migrated to the Los Angeles, California area where he was employed by the Goodyear Tire Company. His travels and love of the outdoors brought him to Idaho in 1959 and several times before his marriage.   He says that it is a place he always wanted to be.   Married for 54 years to his petite wife Mary, they moved to Weiser in 1991.  Mary, when asked how the romance began, gets a mischievous smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye as she relates how, she “caught Jimmie when he wasn’t looking.”  He may have been a reluctant suitor at first, but when she baked him his first coconut cake, she had him hooked! She says with a wink, “You know . . .  the way to a man’s heart!”  The Kellers have 2 children; a son and a daughter with so many grandchildren and great grandchildren that they have lost count. (So they say!) Jimmie’s service to his country; his dedication and sacrifice more than earned him the honor of being presented with the Quilt.
The Quilt of Valor Foundation was formed as the brainchild of a woman named Catherine Roberts, who, in 2004, designed a quilt to honor her son, who was serving in Iraq at the time. The idea spread; the goal being 1000, 000 quilts as donations to wounded Veterans across the U.S. as a symbol of appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifices that were made.  To date, over 484 of these handmade representations have been presented to deserving men and women.  The Quilt presented to Jimmie Keller was designed and crafted by local, Trina Leininger, who states that her idea came from the volunteer contributions of friends who offered square in the patriotic red, white and blue theme. Trina says that the specialness in this particular quilt lies in the fact that many hands touched it with appreciation, and it is made with love. Anyone wishing to donate a quilt can contact Trina or the National Quilt of Valor Foundation online.
Jimmie is a hero in his own right.  He is one of those whose unselfish men, whose term of forfeiture of personal freedom for the perseverance of others is a gesture that has been rewarded in many ways.  The Quilt will forever be a reminder to himself and his family of his gallantry.  Mary’s coconut cake is the other!

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