World War II veteran honored: John Gordon Blythe receives Quilt of Valor

1st Lt. John Gordon Blythe, second from left, is honored with a Quilt of Valor dring a ceremony last Tuesday in Magnolia. Robin Aschenberg, who stitched the quilt, stands behind him. Fellow veterans Johnathan R. Andrews, left, and Gary L. Coy flank him. Delaware State News/Brooke Schultz

MAGNOLIA — When World War II veteran John Gordon Blythe looks back on his service, he said it was an honor to serve his country.

For Robin Aschenberg, it was an honor to stitch his Quilt of Valor, which he received alongside nine other veterans during a ceremony last Tuesday night.

“I just feel terribly honored to be able to give him that,” said Mrs. Aschenberg. “I truly love making quilts and giving them because, to me, it shows a great amount of love. Even though I didn’t know him until tonight, it makes me feel good that I can pass on some gratitude to him for his sacrifice.”

1st Lt. Blythe, 98, piloted B-17 bombers and flew 35 missions in Europe during the war. He enlisted in 1942 when he was 21 and, nearly a year to the day after he began training, he graduated as a second lieutenant.

He joined his first crew as a co-pilot in the 398 Bomb Group, Eighth Air Force, First Air Division and was stationed at the Royal Air Force Nuthampstead, England, he said.

He flew several missions with that group of soldiers, before serving as a pilot with another crew.

“I was talking to my commanding officer one night at the officer’s club at the bar. I said, ‘When am I going to get my crew?’” he said, noting that he was only a co-pilot at the time.

But his commanding officer had faith.

“The next day I got my crew,” he noted.

Lt. Blythe served with those men until the end of the war. Their last mission was over Berlin, and that was the only time a crewmember was injured, he said.

1st Lt. John Gordon Blythe is pictured at the left in the back row along with his crew. Lt. Blythe served as a pilot in the 398 Bomb Group, 603rd Squadron, Eighth U.S. Army Air Force, First Air Division. Submitted photo

Today, Lt. Blythe is the last survivor of a crew of nine members.

“The biggest thing I brought back was we beat the objective we went to defeat. We won the war. We knew it was evil,” he said. “We went out to fight it, and we defeated it. I have become a Christian since then; I know that, since God is in control, good is always going to conquer evil in the final analysis.”

On Tuesday, he said he was thrilled to be alongside other veterans as they received their Quilts of Valor, surrounded by friends and family.

“It’s quite an honor,” he said. “It was a combination of pleased, surprised and honored.”

Lt. Blythe has lived in Delaware since 1984, where he worked with Equitable Bank until retirement in 1988. He enrolled at Wesley College at age 70 to study history.

Cotton Club Quilters of Dover presented the quilts. Quilts of Valor, founded in 2003, is a non-profit which endeavors to honor veterans for their sacrifices.

Recipients also included Frank J. Roberts, Richard Lee Stewart, Johnathan R. Andrews, George Dorylis, Ronald Siebach, Roland Lomax, Dan Sloan, Gary Coy and Charlie Grant.