Items headed to troops serving overseas

A Twin Lakes Area woman’s donation of 49 camouflaged quilts to troops serving overseas was recently picked up by a very special courier.

An MH-60M Black Hawk helicopter touched down at the Baxter County Airport on Nov. 25 to pick up the quilts, which were sewn by Mountain Home resident Sandra Kiphuth.

U.S. Army service members from Fort Campbell, Ky., took a few minutes to chat with Kiphuth, eat breakfast and refuel their helicopter before heading back with the quilts, which will be sent overseas to troops in the field.

“I had always wanted to do something for the service men and women,” said Kiphuth, who made the quilts as part of the Camo Quilt Project. “The Camo Quilt Project really leap out at me when I first saw it.”

The Camo Quilt Project supplies the materials needed to sew the quilts free-of-charge. It only asks that volunteers cover the cost to ship the materials and to cover any expenses involved with getting the finished quilts into the hands of troops.

The Joe P. Joslin American Legion Post 23 in Cotter covered the costs of shipping the quilts’ camouflage material to Kiphuth. Recently retired Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jason Nazarenko of Cotter helped arrange for the quilts to be shipped overseas and called a few friends to see if they could make that happen.

Introduced in 1979, Black Hawk helicopters have served in combat during conflicts in Grenada, Panama, the Balkans, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas in the Middle East.

Black Hawk helicopters can perform a wide array of missions, including the tactical transport of troops, electronic warfare and medical evacuation. It has room to carry up to 11 troops with their equipment.

“This has been really incredible,” Kiphuth said while watching the Black Hawk loaded with her quilts take off from the Baxter County Airport. “I wanted to do something for our troops. I never imagined a helicopter would pick them up.”

The completed quilts measure approximately 45 inches by 72 inches and roll up like a sleeping bag. They are lightweight and have a cotton batting so it breathes better in extreme heat. In the field, the quilts can be both slept on or slept under and can even be used as a pillow. The strip of fabric used to tie the quilt into a roll can also be used as a cooling tie.

It took Kiphuth about six months to complete the quilts, she said.

“I quilted all the quilts and put the binding on them,” she said. “The ladies at Sew Unique helped with some of the layout, sewing the ties and the neck cool bands.”

Kiphuth’s quilts are expected to be overseas and in the hands of troops before Christmas, American Legion officials said.

Linda Wieck made the first camouflaged quilt in 2006 for her son-in-law, Todd, who was being deployed to Iraq. The quilt was a hit with the whole unit, and Wieck eventually made 48 of the quilts before they left for Iraq in July 2006.

From that start, Wieck began hosting workshops on how to make the quilts and eventually moved the operation into a Wisconsin warehouse to accommodate the storage of large bolts of fabric.

According to the Camo Quilt Project, American soldiers are issued sleeping bags, not quilts. Those government-issued sleeping bags are bulky and must be carried inside a soldier’s backpack. The camouflaged quilts are popular with troops because they can be used in the open and can be tied to the outside of the kit, leaving room inside for additional items.

For more information about the Camo Quilt Project, visit it online at or email Linda Wieck at

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