John Andrew Quinlan – Chief Warrant Officer, United States Army

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
February 20, 2007

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of seven soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.They died February 18, 2007, in southeastern Afghanistan when the Chinook helicopter they were in crashed.The incident is under investigation.

Killed were:

Chief Warrant Officer Hershel D. McCants Jr., 33, of ArizonaMcCants was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Kentucky

Chief Warrant Officer John A. Quinlan, 36, of New Jersey.Quinlan was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Kentucky

Sergeant Adam A. Wilkinson, 23, of Fort Carson, Colorado.Wilkinson was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Kentucky

Specialist Travis R. Vaughn, 26, of Reinbeck, Iowa.Vaughn was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Kentucky

Specialist Brandon D. Gordon, 21, of Naples, Florida (Gordon was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Kentucky

Private First Class Ryan C. Garbs, 20, of Edwardsville, Illinois.Garbs was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Georgia

Pivate First Class Kristofer D. S. Thomas, 18, of Roseville, California.Thomas was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Georgia

For more information in regard to this release the media can contact the U.S. Army Special Operations Command public affairs office at (910) 432-6005.

19 February 2007:

A soldier from Maryland was one of eight who died in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Sunday.

Warrant Officer John Quinlan, 36, lived in Tennessee but was raised in Timonium. He had been in every major offensive since 1990 — from the first Gulf War to Somalia and Afghanistan.

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Quinlan was a graduate of Dulaney High School. He joined the Marines right after graduation. Ten years later, he joined the Army and fulfilled his goal of becoming a successful Chinook pilot.

Quinlan was stationed in Afghanistan with the 160th Special Forces Aviation Regiment. According to military reports, the CH-47 Chinook helicopter Quinlan was piloting was on a transport mission when the helicopter had a sudden loss of power and crashed in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday.

Taliban militants have been active in the region, but military officials said they’re confident the crash was not due to enemy action.

Of the 22 on board the Chinook, 14 people were injured and seven other died alongside Quinlan, officials said.

“Every time I thought of him, he brought a smile to my face,” a childhood friend, Brian Edward, told WBAL TV 11 News.

Edwards described Quinlan as an avid swimmer, a jokester and a family man. Quinlan was married and had three daughters, all of whom live in Tennessee.

“From talking to his mom and his dad, right off the bat they said their consolation comes from the fact that he died doing what he loved to do,” Edward said.

Quinlan was scheduled to come home next week. He will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

Quinlan would have celebrated his 37th birthday on Monday.

The U.S. military is investigating the cause of the crash. It is the deadliest single incident this year for the U.S.-led coalition and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

19 February 2007:

Army Warrant Officer John A. Quinlan, whose helicopter crashed in Afghanistan Sunday, may have grown up in Maryland, but it was Bradley Beach, New Jersey, that he called home.

Quinlan, one of 22 service members aboard the C-47 Chinook helicopter, was one week shy of his 37th birthday when the helicopter crashed Monday in the southeastern region of Afghanistan, killing him.

The crash killed eight military personnel in all and marks the deadliest single incident this year for the 47,000 U.S.-led coalition and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Fourteen survived.

Officials on Monday were quick to say the helicopter was not shot down, that the pilot had reported engine problems just before the crash.

That pilot was Quinlan.


“He was the lead pilot,” Robert J. Quinlan said of his son Monday. “He was what they call the “pilot in command.’ ”

The Quinlan family hails from Baltimore, but after spending every summer in Bradley Beach since 1984, the family eventually turned their Monmouth Avenue summer home into their permanent residence.

“He always called this home,” the elder Quinlan, 68, said. “It was the only home we kept.”

Robert Quinlan, a retired Army Major, said he never pushed his son to pursue a military career and was shocked to find out John had joined the Marines, after graduating high school in Maryland in 1987.

“My attitude at the time was, “If this is what you want — go for it,’ ” Robert Quinlan said.

John Quinlan’s military career spans 18 years, with stints in both Iraq wars, a tour in Somolia and multiple tours in Afghanistan, with an elite military unit.

Quinlan left the Marines after 10 years when he was commissioned as an Army Warrant Officer, training as a helicopter pilot.

He eventually joined the elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, nicknamed the “night stalkers.” The regiment’s missions include attack, assault and reconnaissance, and are usually conducted at night and in secret.

“I never pushed,” Robert Quinlan said. “He fell right in. He was right off and running. He signed up for four years, and then four more.”

Susan M. Ripke, John Quinlan’s sister, said the dangerous military life simply fit her big brother.

“He was never going to be the kind of guy who was stuck at a desk,” Ripke, of Seymour, Connecticut, said. “He always had to go, go, go. He had a personality that just took over a room. He was just a big, Irish guy.”

Standing 6 feet 4 inches tall, John Quinlan could only fly Chinook helicopters, his father said. They were the only ones with enough headroom.

“I always said he was the only man I look up to,” said Robert Quinlan, who is just two inches shorter than his son.

John Quinlan made his home in Clarksville, Tennessee, with his wife, Julie, and the couple’s three daughters — Keely, 10, Maddy, 8, and Erin, 3.

The helicopter had a “sudden, unexplained loss of power and control and crashed,” U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. David Accetta said. The military did not release details of the crash or the helicopter’s mission, but said the crash is under investigation.

A memorial service is planned for today at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where Quinlan’s regiment is stationed. He will be buried next week in Arlington National Cemetery, with a local memorial to be scheduled later.

“We’re doing the best we can do,” said John’s mother, Kathleen Quinlan, 62. “We know and have the faith that we will pull the pieces back together somewhere down the road.”

20 February 2007:

A Dulaney High School graduate and father of three was one of eight soldiers who died Sunday in Afghanistan when the helicopter he was piloting crashed due to mechanical failure, relatives said.

Army Warrant Officer John A. Quinlan, 36, who grew up in northern Baltimore County, had radioed that he had lost power shortly before the plane went down, said his father, Robert J. Quinlan of Bradley Beach, New Jersey.

Military officials have said that the crash, the deadliest incident in Afghanistan this year, was not caused by enemy fire.

Quinlan, who had served in both Iraq wars and Somalia, joined the military soon after he graduated from high school in 1987. After serving with the U.S. Marines for 10 years, he transferred to the Army to pilot helicopters.

He flew as part of the elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, nicknamed “The Night Stalkers” because they only fly in darkness, said his father, a retired Army Major.

He had been planning to return to his home in Clarksville, Tennessee, next week to spend his 37th birthday with his wife and three daughters, his father said.

Quinlan grew up in the Phoenix area of Baltimore County, attended the Immaculate Conception School in Towson through the eighth grade, then attended Calvert Hall College for a year before transferring to Dulaney.

Survivors include his wife, Julie Quinlan, and daughters, Keely, 10, Maddy, 8, and Erin, 3, all of Clarksville, Tennessee.

A memorial service will be held tomorrow in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where his unit was stationed. A date for his burial has not been set, but his parents expect that he will be buried next week at Arlington National Cemetery.

Bradley Beach, New Jersey — Borough residents Robert and Kathleen Quinlan, along with their 35-year-old daughter Susan Ripke of Seymour, Conn., are happy they just saw their son and brother, 36-year-old Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 John Quinlan, over the Christmas and New Year holidays, to celebrate and spend time together.

“We spent New Year’s Eve at Clancy’s. We celebrated the Irish New Year,” said Mrs. Ripke, who added it was, “one of the best memories” of her brother, and only sibling.

“That was the finest memory we have of him,” said Mr. Quinlan.

But now, instead of getting ready to wish their son and brother a happy birthday on Monday, the family is planning his funeral.

Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan’s C-47 Chinook helicopter crashed in the southeastern part of Afghanistan on Sunday, killing him and eight other military personnel on board.

“We may be burying him on his birthday,” said his sister, who said that her brother would have been 37 on Monday, February 26, 2007. He was expected to soon be home with his wife and children.

“He got sent over this time just for 30 days, and he was a week away from coming home,” she said.

Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan was one of 22 people aboard the helicopter, and 14 members survived the crash. The cause of the crash has not been determined, but, according to military officials, Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan, who was piloting the helicopter, reported engine problems shortly before it crashed.

According to Fort Monmouth Public Affairs Officer Henry Kearney, “the crash is still under investigation.”

Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan, who was stationed with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, was based and deployed out of Fort Campbell in Kentucky. His regiment was deemed ‘the Night Stalkers,’ because they regularly undertake attacks conducted during the night. His 37-year-old wife, Julie, and their three daughters, Keely, 10, Maddy, 8, and Erin, 3, live in Clarksville, Tennessee, not too far away from the base.

While the pilot has lived in several places throughout his career, Bradley Beach was always home to him, his family said.

Mr. Quinlan, 68, and Mrs. Quinlan, 63, raised their two children in Phoenix, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore.

However, Mr. Quinlan’s parents had a beach home in Avon, and so, in 1984, the Quinlans decided they would buy a summer home in Bradley Beach.

Mr. Quinlan said that while they lived in Maryland during the winter, they often spent the holidays, as well summers, at their home in Bradley Beach, and that his son spent a lot of time in the shore town, as well.

“Kate was a teacher, so she’d stay for the whole summer with the kids, and I would come on the weekends,” he said. Mr. Quinlan also said because of the two locations, his son “lived in two worlds,” but that, “he always thought he grew up here. He thought this was his home.”

Mr. Quinlan, who is a retired Army major, said that “it was a surprise” that his son decided to become a pilot in the Army, because he never mentioned a passion for flying while growing up.

“The only thing he loved when he was young was his bike and the quarter-ramp, out in the back of the house,” his dad recalled.

But John decided to join the military, after meeting a recruiter when he was a senior in high school. After graduating from Baltimore County’s Dulaney High School in 1987, he enlisted in the U.S. Marines, where he spent 10 years before joining the Army.

He was first trained as an Avionics specialist on Harrier Jump Jets, and became a loadmaster for the C130 Hercules cargo plane. He then enlisted in the Army, where he trained as a Chinook pilot at Fort Rucker in Alabama, before transferring to Kentucky as an Instructor Pilot for the 160th Special Forces Aviation Regiment. Standing at 6’4”, John was too big for other helicopters, so the Chinook was one of the only ones he could fit inside to fly, his parents said.

“His mom was not thrilled,” said Mr. Quinlan, about the idea of her son wanting to join the military back in the 1980s, even after recruiters came to the house to speak with the family.

“I said, ‘if that’s what you want, that’s what you want,’” Mr. Quinlan recalled.

Mr. Quinlan said his son was promoted and commended often, and was on the verge of finishing qualifications to be a flight lead pilot, where he would have been in charge of several helicopters.

On one of his last visits back home, he brought his family a special gift.

“It’s an American flag that he flew on a mission in Afghanistan,” said Mrs. Ripke. The framed certificate stated that the “flag was flown on a direct action combat mission … during Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2006.”

“He loved what he did,” said his sister. “My father was so proud of him.”

Mrs. Ripke said that the family did discuss concerns about having a loved one in the military.

“We talked about it all the time,” said Mrs. Ripke. She also discussed a previous incident, in August, in which her brother’s helicopter was shot down.

“He managed to land it and save over 20 people on board, and everyone was OK,” she said.

That incident was a wake-up call for her brother. “He’s a big Army guy, but that’s scary, especially when you have kids,” Mrs. Ripke said.

She said after that that point, there was “talk about transitioning, and what he’s going to do after the military.”

Mrs. Ripke said when they first heard the news Sunday, they weren’t sure what to think, because “plenty of times you heard a Chinook went down … but you don’t know if it was his unit.”

But this time, Mrs. Ripke added her family just had a bad feeling on Sunday.

“My mom called me in the morning. We were going to a party in northern Jersey, and she said a Chinook went down, and she just said she felt sick … I think we both kinda knew at that point.”

Mrs. Ripke said that after they got to the party, her husband, Greg, told her that her brother’s wife, Julie, called the house, and that she needed to call right away. She found out that casualty officers had just visited her sister-in-law to deliver the tragic news.

Mrs. Ripke said one of the worst things she has ever had to do in her life was to make the phone call to her father.

She also indicated that a notification officer, as well as a chaplain from Fort Monmouth, came to tell her parents.

Mr. Quinlan’s mother, 91-year-old Mary Quinlan, currently lives in Seabrook Village in Eatontown. Mrs. Ripke said ‘mom-mom,’ as they call her, is devastated by the loss of her grandson.

While John’s children are devastated as well, said Mrs. Ripke, they do have some understanding of what their father did for a living and how dangerous and how important his job was.

“These girls know very much what it means, because they live in a town where it’s all military … and they’ve had friends who lost fathers.”

But even as busy as he was with his military duties, her brother’s love for his family was immense, Mrs. Ripke said.

“He was very involved with the girls, and he was a great dad,” she said. “He was a soccer coach. He loved those girls.”

Mr. Quinlan and his daughter talked about how much John enjoyed telling jokes, as much as his father, a trait Mr. Quinlan added, “came from me.”

“He had a really big personality. He was a great storyteller. He loved to make people laugh,” said said Mrs. Ripke.

She added that her brother loved being Irish, and loved all things Irish.

“He loved coming home and going to Kelly’s and Clancy’s.”

Besides his proud heritage, John also enjoyed the Jersey shore, especially Bradley Beach. His sister recalled how much her brother enjoyed staying athletic, as well.

“He loved the beach. He loved to surf and run. When he’d come home for a visit, he would run all the way down to Belmar and back to Spring Lake,” Mrs. Ripke said.

She added that he would also join Ironman Competitions, which are triathlons focusing on swimming, biking, and running.

Mr. Quinlan said that he was planning on eventually giving his son his original red 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible, unrestored and sitting in his garage.

“I was planning on giving it to him when he retired, to restore.”

Mrs. Quinlan recalled that one of her favorite names for her son was ‘Gentle Giant,’ not only because of his height, but because of the person he was.

“He was a good kid. For 37 years he packed it in and accomplished a lot,” said Mrs.Quinlan.

She added that for her son, “It was not just about John, but making life better for others.”

A memorial service was held for Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan at Fort Campbell yesterday, and he will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., next week, with full military honors.

Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan will also receive a Purple Heart medal posthumously for the helicopter incident in August, as well as a meritorious flying award.

The family said a memorial service to be held in Bradley Beach will be scheduled for sometime in March.

The Quinlan family is setting up an education fund for John’s three daughters. Donations can be sent to The Quinlan Family Donation Fund, c/o US Bank, Attention: Laurie Dove, 1816 Madison St., Clarksville, Tennessee 37043.

3 March 2007:

Courtesy of the Coast Star

BRADLEY BEACH — An Army soldier who spent many summers with his family here and considered the borough his home, was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia., on Tuesday.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 John A. Quinlan, 36, whose parents Robert and Kathleen Quinlan live here, was killed in a Chinook helicopter crash on Sunday, Feb. 18 in Afghanistan. He and seven other military personnel were killed when the helicopter he was piloting crashed.

Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan was buried Tuesday at 2 p.m. with full military honors, just one day after he would have turned 37.

A wake preceded the burial service at Murphy’s Funeral Home in Arlington, Virginia.

Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan’s family was presented with the Distinguished Flying Cross posthumously in his honor, which he was awarded for heroism or extraordinary achievement during an aerial flight, as well as the Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Medal for Valor.

He also received, over the course of his service, more than 20 medals and, or decorations including three Air Medals, four Army Commendation Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Combat Action Badge and the Senior Aviation Badge.

Military officials said last Sunday’s incident occurred when the MH-47E Chinook helicopter had a sudden loss of power, while conducting operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan was assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, as an Army Special Operations helicopter pilot. He had radioed in that the aircraft was having problems just prior to crashing.

Though it is a time for grieving for his family, friends and colleagues, Tuesday was also a time to celebrate Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan’s life, with a “Beers, Tears and Cheers” party held at the Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church, Virginia.

The family also attended a memorial service last Wednesday, February 21, 2007,held at Fort Campbell, for all eight of the military personnel who were killed in the crash.

Kimberly Laudano, Public Affairs Officer for the ‘Night Stalkers’ unit of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, said that the somber memorial service is symbolically composed of soldier’s items, including a helmet, rifle, and combat boots, and it is a tradition for soldiers to remember their fallen comrades this way.

Mrs. Laudano also added that because their aviation unit will normally fly at night — thus the name the Night Stalkers — they also “customize the memorial with a flight helmet and night vision goggles.”

Other items include a M-4 rifle, the soldier’s dog tags, and photograph, as well as the American Flag and the unit’s colors.

Tomorrow in New Jersey, Governor Jon Corzine will also be issuing an executive order requiring all flags to be flown at half-staff, in honor of Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan, according to the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs Public Affairs Specialist Staff Sergeant Barbara Harbison.

“They put down the flag to honor all New Jersey soldiers killed in combat,” Staff Sgt. Harbison stated.

She also added that the family will receive the flag, folded, that was flown at the state capital in Trenton on Friday, along with a certificate and copy of the executive order.

The Maryland State flag was flown at half-staff on Tuesday, through an order from Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, in honor of Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan, whose family is from Phoenix, Maryland.

The family also released a statement last week, stating how much they appreciate the support of so many people.

“Our family very much appreciates the outpouring of support and prayers that we have received from our friends and communities,” the statement reads. “John will be dearly missed as a devoted husband and father, as well as a loving son, brother and uncle … John was a strong man and had a firm sense of justice. He believed in his mission and stood up for what he knew was right. John died doing what he loved.”

Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan, who served 18 years in the military, was involved in every major military conflict since 1990. Some of the soldier’s deployments include five to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, two to Operation Iraqi Freedom and a tour in Somalia, as well as service in Operation Desert Storm.

NBC Nightline also featured Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan in its 2002 program about the ‘first-wave’ of Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan.

Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan is survived by his wife, Julie, and their three daughters, Keely, 10, Madeline, 8, and Erin, 3, of Clarksville, Tenn.; parents, Robert [retired Army Major] and Kathleen Quinlan of Bradley Beach; grandmother Mary Quinlan of Eatontown; sister and brother-in-law Susan and Greg Ripke of Seymour, Conn., and many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the Quinlan family has asked that donations be made to The Quinlan Family Donation Fund, C/O U.S. Bank, Attention: Laurie Dove, 1816 Madison Street, Clarksville, Tenn., 37043.

A memorial service for Chief Warrant Officer Quinlan will take place in Bradley Beach sometime in March.

29 March 2007:

Column: Reflections on feeling the war

By and Courtesy Of: Pat Bywater, Editor, The Meadville Tribune (MEADVILLE, Pennsylvania)

MEADVILLE, Pennsylvania — I looked for some comfort, some solace among the long, straight rows of headstones, but it wasn’t to be found the day my cousin was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

What I did find was a new perspective on the war, one that I believe is shared by too few and one that makes me concerned for the future.

John Quinlan was a man who believed, as I do, that there will be times in our history when we will be called upon to fight and die for our country. Being ready for those moments was something that fit this 6-foot-4 red-haired fireball of energy perfectly. John believed in and loved his work so much that his commitment was exceptional. After 10 years as a Marine he joined the Army to become a pilot in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, flying Chinook helicopters on missions involving special forces. These men and women know that they are the tip of the spear — when trouble comes they are among the first called, the first to kill and the first to die.

John served in every major conflict since 1990 — including five deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

And so it was that on Feb. 18 during a nighttime mission in southeastern Afghanistan, John was killed in a helicopter crash that claimed seven other lives. Fourteen survived.

John left behind a wife and three daughters. The youngest is 3.

I knew this could happen, but just like the news of the war, they were facts absent persistent, visceral personal impact. From time to time, concerns for John’s safety were a focus, just like from time to time news of the war has been a central concern for me, but these times would pass as the ebb and flow of “normal” life went on.

Unfortunately, this is how it is for most of us. Unlike many other wars in our past, in the Global War on Terror only a very small percentage of Americans have felt the personal impact of a death or an injury. And, outside of the military community, almost none of us has experienced any significant sacrifice because of the war.

All that changed for me at Arlington.

It changed as my cousin’s coffin was borne by horse-drawn caisson to its final resting place. It changed as I watched his children and wondered about their future. And it changed as I looked into the eyes of the Marines, Army Rangers and other service men and women who gathered to mourn his passing, all the while knowing that they could be the next buried here.

I began to feel the war as an inescapable, unrelenting presence.

Anyone who serves in the military entrusts their very lives to us. In exchange, it is expected that we call on them with a clear understanding of the consequences.

But I wonder if most Americans truly do understand the consequences. How can it be said that we do truly understand the consequences when we so easily went to war and so poorly planned for it? How can it be said that we truly understand the consequences when so many appear to be ready to condemn the effort and abandon the war? And how can it be said that we understand the consequences when the broken bodies who return from the war are provided less than the best medical treatment we can offer?

I think all of these things are symptoms of too few of us actually feeling the war, and as I looked into the eyes of service men and women at my cousin’s funeral, this realization was almost too much to bear.

I am worried that one of the casualties of this war will be the people’s credibility with our men and women in uniform. How can we expect them to lay down their bodies, their lives for us given the decisions we’ve made, the way we’re making them and the help we haven’t provided?

And I am worried that another casualty of this war will be our credibility with our enemies. They will be emboldened as they see how we choose to use our fighting men and women and how we react to adversity.

This is how I started thinking when I started feeling the war. I hope my fears are misplaced. If they are not, God save us all.



  • CW3   US ARMY
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 02/26/1970
  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/18/2007

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