By Kevin Kelly
“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.”
~ Ronald Reagan
As the “H Company” platoon leaders huddled in the darkness of the Quang Nam Province in South Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Michael Quinn was tasked with leading his infantry unit on a reconnaissance mission to seek a water supply and identify enemy troop movement. Stealthily executing their directive, Quinn and his troops happened upon a large invading enemy force heading in the direction of “H Company.” Realizing that the only way to alert his fellow marines of the dire situation was to draw fire on his position, Quinn dispatched members of his unit back to “H Company” and engaged the enemy. While that fateful decision resulted in Lt. Michael Quinn making the “ultimate sacrifice,” it also prevented the loss of many lives. He was recognized for his bravery and awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star and is honored on Panel 18W, Row 8 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.
Noted for his academic and athletic achievement, Michael Quinn accomplished so much in his 23 years. He was a product of his Charlestown upbringing where looking out for your neighbor, respecting elders, hard work and “having your friend’s back” were ingrained in him at an early age. Michael graduated from Boston Latin High School and the College of the Holy Cross where he achieved Hall of Fame status as a two-sport (football and hockey) Scholar Athlete. After graduating from college, Michael attended Officer Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia and finished first in his class. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1968, assigned to “H” Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Division and deployed to Vietnam.
The Lt. Michael P. Quinn Scholarship was established in 1969 and over the past 51 years nearly $250,000 has been awarded to “Townie” high school graduates looking to pursue a college education. Applications to be considered the 52nd Quinn Scholar are available at the Charlestown Public Library, the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club Teen Center, and the Charlestown High School Guidance Office. This year, the scholarship increases to $12,000 for the first year of college — the criteria include promise of academic success, substantial athletic achievement, responsible citizenship and financial need. For any questions about the scholarship, please contact Ronan FitzPatrick at 617-242-5493.