By Cassi Haggard / For the Times-Tribune

Sleeping on a helmet isn’t comfortable.

So when Juanita Tippett asked her husband, a Vietnam War veteran, what she could do to make the soldiers more comfortable he didn’t hesitate.

A pillow.

From his time in Vietnam, Tippet remembers sleeping on his helmet and longing for the comfort of a pillow.

At 10 a.m. Saturday the American Legion Auxiliary will hold a sewing bee to make pillows for local troops.

The American Legion Auxiliary plans to finish 485 pillow for the Kentucky National Guard.

Betty Murphy heard about Tippet’s idea and wanted to help.

In 2001, when the military went to Afghanistan, she started making pillows. Originally Murphy sent the pillows herself but now includes her pillows in the American Legion’s care-packages.

Having a son in the military made helping more personal for Murphy. Her son fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. When she started making the pillows she sent the pillows to her son’s unit.

Shirley Mattingly, Vice President of the American Legion Auxiliary, organized the sewing bee for her son, First Lt. Brian Mattingly, a member of the Kentucky National Guard. She sent pillows when he was in Kuwait, and when he asked again, she couldn’t refuse.

Many of the pillows are almost finished. Murphy has already sewn the majority together, but they still need to be stuffed and finished.

“I’ve worked on it day and night for weeks,” Murphy said.

This year the fabric was donated by Southeast Kentucky Rehabilitation Center. The American Legion bought the stuffing. Without the donation, the pillows would cost more than $1,500 to make, Murphy said.

The work doesn’t faze Murphy because the soldiers work so hard to protect the country.

“The way I look at it we can lay our head on a soft pillow at night and so should they. It’s ridiculous they have to lay their head on a helmet when they are protecting us,” Murphy said.

The soldiers love the pillows. Brian Mattingly said the homemade pillows are more convenient than buying pillows because they are small and easy to pack. The pillows can be used in the field because the fabric matches the soldier’s camouflage.

The pillows also carry sentimental value.

“It reminds you of home because it’s from the people at home. You didn’t buy it in-country or make it, the people at home spent their time and money making it,” Brian Mattingly said.

The 485 pillows finished Saturday will be presented to the Kentucky National Guard. The presentation will be 6 p.m., June 29th at Barbourville City Schools new gym.

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