MILLWOOD — Although Mike Quinn of Millwood takes pains to make it clear he was never in combat, his military career is extensive. He is qualified as a master jumper (parachutist) and a pathfinder. The son of a career military man, Mike even served in both the Army and Navy at the same time.
“I was an Army brat,” Quinn said. “My father was in the Army at Fort Sam, Houston, Texas, where I was born and we moved around a lot. My parents were married in the Philippines in 1917.”
“I joined the Army Feb. 7, 1947,” Mike said. “I was a freshman in college in Kansas City, Mo. A bunch of Marine Corps people came over to the college and said, ‘Why don’t you come and join the Marines?’ So a whole bunch of us joined that and was in the reserves. Then I transferred to Kansas State in Kansas City, Kan., and I got into ROTC. One day I was in the bank cashing my ROTC check and my Marine Corps check for the reserves. Standing right behind me was my colonel from ROTC.
“And he said to me, “Mr. Quinn, I don’t mean to intrude but did I see you cash both and Army and a Navy check?’
“He asked me what the deal was so I explained. He told me that I couldn’t be in the Army and the Navy at the same time. I told him I had been for two years. He told me to come see him on Monday and tell him whether I was in the Army or the Navy. I gave it a lot of thought over the weekend. I was either a corporal or a PFC in the Marine Reserves and when I graduated from college I would be a second lieutenant in the Army and they got paid more. So I resigned the Marine Corps reserves and joined an Army reserve unit. I graduated from ROTC with some time left before I graduated college so I got a commission from the Kansas National Guard. Then I got a notice from my draft board saying they were going to draft me.
“I told them I was a lieutenant in the reserve and they had spent a lot of money to make me one. I said it seemed like a waste of money to draft me as a private and send me to basic training. So they called me to active duty as a second lieutenant.”
He was assigned to the Mountain Division, then assigned to the 82nd Airborne and went to jump school. That’s where he met and married his wife.
Quinn’s wife, Regina, joined the Army after the urging of her older sister who was in the Army Nurse Corps in World War II.
“She was in Europe and I talked to her about it after I passed the nursing boards,” she said. “My sister thought it was a good idea (to join the Army) and that it would broaden my horizons and allow me to travel. I graduated in June of 1951. I was commissioned in December 1952.”
Regina was born and raised in Cambridge, Mass., and couldn’t wait to get out.
“I was assigned to Fort Benning, Ga., and was immediately introduced to the deep south. It was quite an education.”
Quinn met Regina, when they were both at Fort Benning, Ga.
“That was my first duty station,” Regina said. “And he was going through jump school.”
It was those two situations that led to them meeting.
“My roommate had broken his leg on his first parachute jump,” Mike explained. “He had a date with her at the officer’s club. He told me ‘I have to be on crutches and it will take me some time to get there. Would you go and take care of my date until I get there?’
“I took him very seriously,” Mike said. “Four months and four days later, she and I were married.”
“Then she got orders to go overseas. So I tried to get orders to go overseas so I could be with her,” Mike explained. “She was taken off of orders from Germany and given orders to Japan and I was still stuck in the states.
So, finally, I got orders for Japan and went over there. I was assigned to the 187th and the nurses over there stationed her as close as they could to where I was, which was Fucuoko. We were married by this time. When they found out she was pregnant, they decided to let her remain in Japan as husband and wife. We found a house we could rent.
“The Army discharged her because you couldn’t be in the Army and be the mother of a child under the age of 16. So she was out of the Army but she was sent to Camp Wood where I was stationed until she could get into her uniform.”
Mike and Regina finally qualified for living quarters on the post. Then they went home to the states after Mike’s tour of duty was over and was taken off active duty in September 1955 and went back into the Kansas National Guard.
“Then we were advised there was a special unit being organized for the reservists who wanted to go airborne,” Mike recalled. “So I put in for it and went into the reserve special forces in 1957, and I stayed there until I finally retired from the Army in 1988.”
Mike wasn’t sure exactly how many noncombat jumps he made during that time, but he did enough to qualify as a master jumper.
After his retirement Mike worked as an insurance agent for State Farm Insurance and for Proctor and Gamble as a salesman. He retired in 1995.
They then moved to the Danville area and during that time Mike and Regina raised 12 children, all of whom served in the military in some form or another.