“I did two tours in Vietnam. I was in the naval air force, I was in a patrol squadron that hunted submarines in Tonkin Bay,” Chavez said.
Then when he and his fellow veterans returned to the United States.
“We didn’t have a welcome parade. Nobody welcomed us home, nobody recognized us for what we did and how we served our country because it was an unpopular war.
No one except for each other and those who also served in Vietnam. And that’s how things went for decades until a few weeks ago, while having dinner, Chavez was surprised with an act of kindness.
“A gift. Handmade gift. Someone who took the time to make it and reached out to me because I was a Vietnamese vet and they were welcoming me into their home.
That someone was Liz Martinez, a quilter, who had a personal connection to Vietnam veterans. Printed on the American flag were the words Chavez had been waiting to hear.
“When I see something like this, it’s been 50 years. Over 50 and someone welcomed me home. It means a lot. It’s my parade, so to speak,” Chavez said.
That’s why Chavez decided to Pay It 4ward with $400. Of course, Martinez was busy doing other quilts when we caught her.
“We are here to thank you. I’m here with friends and family, Joy Wang of Channel 4 New, Pay It 4ward to you for being such an outstanding angel from Albuquerque and would love to pay it 4ward to you,” Chavez said.
“You deserved it. you’re a Vietnam veteran,” Martinez said. “My husband. My husband Hew as a Vietnamese vet and he told me the stories of when he came home and how they were treated so when I started sewing I told him I thought my purpose was to make quilts for Vietnam.
She has been quilting for 16 years and has lost count of the number of quilts she has distributed.
“We would go to restaurants and my granddaughters – I would tell them to go see if you see anyone wearing a hat as pompous as their grandfather, and you choose them this time. And they did and that’s how they got their quilts,” Martinez said.
She is used to surprising others, but this time it was different.