I’ve decided to keep this blog on “Splendiferous History” to tell the stories of people who were as unique as they were brave and did what they could during their lives to make a difference in the world. Most of the ones whose stories will no doubt land in this blog are already quite famous, but I’d like to mention, first and foremost, the one I knew best, and who wasn’t: my grandfather, Patrick Quinn.
Grandpop never talked about it much, but he was a local hero. He had been the security guard on a mail truck that was robbed back in the late 1920’s in Elizabeth, NJ. When one of the robbers shot Grandpop in his right arm, the ambidextrous man, though wounded, simply transferred his gun to his left hand and proceeded to fire back. Some would call that evidence of guts. Grandpop considered it to be all in a day’s work. The criminals who had robbed the truck were apprehended and Grandpop earned a well-deserved promotion.
After the Japanese had the nerve to attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, setting off America’s entry into World War II, Grandpop decided he wanted to enlist in the Marine Corps and join the fight . He was in his 40’s and considered “too old,” so he had to obtain special permission to get into the fray. He asked for it and he got it. He was posted to Tientsin, China (now Tianjin) and was with a rather elite unit there that included the actors Tyrone Power and Macdonald Carey. Grandpop was put in charge of the entire mail system for the American military in Tientsin.
When he was discharged at the end of the war, General A. A. Vandergrift wrote him a letter to say that he’d been an inspiration to the entire unit. They all knew that, at his age, he could have stayed home rather than serve his country, but he chose to serve instead.
He’s been gone for over 20 years now, but I still salute you, Grandpop!