The Eagle Cane Project – honoring disabled veterans |

The Eagle Cane Project – honoring disabled veterans

Pat MartinFormer Navy Lieutenant Wayne Telford proudly displays the cane recently presented to him by the Eagle Cane Project.

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An idea that took root in eastern Oklahoma in 2004 has become the passion of several local woodworking groups: carving eagle-head walking canes for disabled American veterans. The Grand Valley Woodturners presented the project to the Black Canyon Woodcarvers of Montrose, Colo., and the Grand Valley Woodcarvers of Grand Junction, Colo. All three clubs have embraced the project, combining their unique skills to create an artistic representation of support and respect to those who fought for our freedom in past and current wars.

The shaft of each cane is artistically turned by members of the Woodturners Club, while those in the Woodcarvers Club carve the distinctive American Bald Eagle head. The wood used in the heads is matched to the rest of the cane, and the heads are either painted or stained. Then the shaft is woodburned with the recipient-veteran’s name, rank, and unit, creating a one-of-a-kind token of respect.

Member Ron Sievers has been doing the woodburning on the canes, but Marty Hendricks is in the process of taking up that task. Intermountain Wood Products donates the wood for the canes (purple heart wood is used for Purple Heart recipients) and Walker Drug donates the rubber tips attached to the bottom of each cane.

Since the Eagle Cane Project began in the Valley in 2008, 90 eagle canes have been presented, the most recent to Wayne Telford of Grand Junction, Colo., who was a Navy lieutenant in the Vietnam War from September 1968 to February 1970, assigned to a Navy LST 980 Riverboat. Telford had a recent knee replacement and is anticipating surgery on the other knee in the near future. He graciously accepted his cane saying, “I’m honored and humbled by this presentation,” and stated it would have a place of honor in his home. Telford is currently on the board of the Vietnam Memorial in Fruita, Colo.

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Any veteran who was honorably discharged can apply to the Grand Valley Woodcarvers for an eagle head cane. For more information on the Eagle Cane Project, or if you are interested in joining any of these groups and helping create these artistic tributes, please call Buck Taylor at (970) 245-8817.

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