Jason Fabrizi had been in the army for 10 years and had already been deployed three times to Iraq by 2009. That year, he was about to go to war again, this time, in Afghanistan.
Jason Fabrizi had been in the army for 10 years and had already been deployed three times to Iraq by 2009. That year, he was about to go to war again, this time, in Afghanistan. Jason's stepdad and Chillicothe resident, Tim Hess, proudly said, "I raised him since he was a little bitty guy." According to Tim, Jason wanted to follow in his family's footsteps by being in the army. Tim was in the U.S. Marines for 22 years and Jason's step-grandpa, George Hess, was in the Army during World War II for two years. Their family had always been close, talking on the phone almost every day; so, naturally, Jason wanted to be in a tight knit organization, Tim said. "He loved it. He loved leading men. He was good at it too," said Tim. Shirley Hess, Jason's step-grandma, said Jason had a weird feeling about his fourth deployment. He wanted to see all of his family before he left the states. From Colorado, where he was stationed, he traveled to Florida and Ohio to see family members. Tim, George and Shirley traveled to Colorado to see him before he left as well. Jason put on his new war gear for the three of them and said, "This is going to save my life." Shirley snapped a picture of him in his new gear and that was the last picture ever taken of Jason. "It didn't save him," said Shirley. Jason died in an ambush at only 29 years old, taking a rocket in the chest on July 14, 2009. Jason was a first class sergeant and had received two purple hearts, three bronze stars, three army accommodation medals and two army achievement medals during his time of serving our country. Jason left behind a wife and four children: three boys and a baby girl on the way. Shirley said, "He marked all his children with curly red hair." July 14 of this year, marked the 5-year anniversary of Jason's death. Tim, Shirely and George got an unexpected gift that day. They received a quilt in memory of Jason from quilters of the Florida State Chapter of the Home of the Brave Quilt Project. This organization makes replicas of Civil War soldiers’ quilts to give to families "as an expression of our deepest appreciation of the service and sacrifice made by the United States' brave military personnel," according to the certiificate that came with the quilt the Hess family received. These Civil War soldiers' quilts were 48 by 84 inches and were made by the Women's Auxiliary. The quilts were used as part of the soldiers' bedrolls and were also used in military hospitals to put on cots. "In 2 1/2 years, the Women's Auxiliary made and donated to the Union troops over 250,000 quilts," according to the certificate. Only seven are known to exist today. Ironically, before the Hess family received this quilt stitched with so much love, they, too, had become interested in quilting. Shirley had always quilted for her grandchildren and other family members, and that is where Tim, and eventually George's, interest in quilting stemmed from. Tim said he started watching his mother quilt one day and thought to himself, 'Heck, I could do that.' "But it's a lot harder than it looks," Tim admitted. Soon, the Hess house was filled with the buzzing of Tim and Shirley's sewing machines, which made George wonder if he, too, could learn how to sew. After Shirley taught Tim and George how to sew a straight line and they had made one quilt each, they signed up for an eight-week quilting class at Grand River Technical School. They each bought their own sewing machine soon after. Tim said the main goal of the course was to finish a queen-sized quilt. "Dad was the only one in the entire class that finished," Tim said. The Hess family has become skilled at quilting since their class in January. They now sew on an average of 8 to 10 hours a day. "I started sewing at 5 in the morning the other day and didn't stop until 10:30 that night," George said. George describes sewing as, "the best therapy I've ever had." They've each finished many lavish quilts, but Tim's recent project had people around town buzzing. He quilted a detailed American eagle that took over 800 yards of white yarn just to make the head and tail feathers. He framed this eagle in a wood frame; the frame's wood was cut at their family's saw mill last summer during a family reunion. The Hess Saw Mill has been in the Hess family since the early 1900s and was fired up for the first time in 35 years at that reunion last summer. They fired the saw mill up again this past Saturday at this year's reunion. A lucky family member won Tim's eagle in a contest at the reunion this weekend. Edwin Hess was the winner after being the closest to guess how many animal crackers were in a jar without going over. Though the Hess family has been through the travesties of war and heartbreak of losing a loved one, they remain as close as ever. Tim said his family is like a team now more than ever. "We're always running back and forth between rooms, seeing how much progress one another has made," Tim said. After receiving the quilt on July 14th, in remembrance of Jason, the Hesses have been thinking about making quilts for local families who have experienced losing a loved one to the violence of war.