On this Memorial Day I found it fit to ask my father to write a little blurb about his brother, Johnny Quinn, who died during service in Vietnam in 1969. Uncle Johnny meant very much to my Father, being his only sibling. Although I did not know Johnny, I wish I had, and that he was here to guide me as my only uncle. While looking down on us, I hope Uncle Johnny knows our family (and country) are thankful for what he has sacrificed and extremely proud of his accomplishments.
Tribute to Major John Arnold Quinn on Memorial Day 2012 (Aug 29,140 – Oct 1969)
Uncle Johnny was my Dad’s half brother and 14 years his senior. Uncle Johnny married Sue Kleppeninger (a local girl) right after graduation, and Uncle Johnny reported for duty immediately after their honeymoon. My Dad has some memories of time spent together with Johnny and Sue while spending summers with them at various Air Force Bases. Those that he has will be with him forever.
Uncle Johnny graduated from Boston University with a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering. He obtained a U.S. Air Force commission as a 2nd lieutenant and went directly to flight school in Selma, Alabama. From Selma he went to Del Rio, Texas as a flight instructor (T-33s and later upgraded to T-38s). He had a desire to support our cause in Vietnam and was finally was assigned to George AFB in Victorville, CA to learn to fly F-4C Phantoms. Making a difference by training other pilots was important to him, but he wanted to support our nation directly on the front line. He loved to fly.
After learning to fly F-4s in air-to-ground attack missions he was assigned to Cam Ron Bay in Vietnam for a 1-year or 200-mission tour of duty. He left just before Christmas in 1968. Sometime in October 1969 his aircraft was shot down by ground fire (probably Anti-Aircraft-Artillery). His navigator (Partner) was able to eject and survived the event with a broken leg. Uncle Johnny did not survive and his navigator escorted Johnny’s body back to Dover Air Force Base.
Uncle Johnny was awarded 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals, Bronze Star, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Purple Heart. He was posthumously promoted to Major. His Distinguished Flying Cross accomplishments are chiseled in stone on both U.S. coasts at flight museums. The West Coast Memorial is located at March Air Force Base where the museum is located.
Per his wishes he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors and a missing man jet flyover. His wife was presented with the flag.
Some years later, a Vietnam refugee presented the Air Force with a handful of Uncle Johnny’s human remains and an impression of his ID tag (dog tag). There was another full military funeral at Arlington minus the flyover. These remains were placed in an urn and interned at the original burial plot. My Dad was presented with this flag. His wife, although re-married, continues to place a wreath of red, white and blue flowers on the grave on his birthday.
“I thank God for my life. For the stars and stripes. Let freedom forever fly. Let it ring. Salute the ones who died. The ones who give their lives. So we don’t have to sacrifice, all the things we love.” ~Zac Brown Band