William Wilson Quinn – Lieutenant General, United States Army

From a contemporary press report:

William W. “Buffalo Bill” Quinn, 92, a retired Army lieutenant general who was an intelligence officer in Europe in World War II and a frequently decorated regimental commander in the Korean War, died September 11, 2000 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He had congestive heart failure.

General Quinn's peacetime career included a period as director of public information of the Army in Washington. In other assignments, he headed the Army section of the U.S. military advisory mission in Greece in the 1950s and served as deputy
director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in the early 1960s. He later commanded an infantry division. In his last post he was commanding general of the U.S. 7th Army in Germany. He retired from active duty in 1966.

He made his mark as a staff officer in World War II. In March 1944, after serving as a divisional and corps intelligence officer in North Africa and Italy, he was named intelligence officer of the 7th Army.

Although he held the relatively junior rank of lieutenant colonel, he was responsible for gathering and coordinating information for the invasion of southern France on August 15, 1944, that was carried out by U.S. and French troops.

Four months later, he gave timely warning of a desperate German offensive near Colmar in northeastern France. For this, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

At the end of the war, General Quinn played a role in Washington in the transformation of the Office of Strategic Services, the wartime spy agency, into the Central Intelligence Agency. In late 1945, he was named director of the Strategic Services Unit, which had been set up to preserve OSS intelligence assets. In July 1946, he was named chief of operations of the Central Intelligence Group. He remained in that job until 1947, when the organization became the CIA.

Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet issued a statement after learning of General Quinn's death, hailing him as “a leader and visionary” who played an important role in maintaining the nation's intelligence capability between the end of World War II and the onset of the Cold War.

In 1997, General Quinn was awarded the Agency Seal Medallion.

When the Korean War began in 1950, General Quinn, by then a full colonel, was serving on the staff of General Douglas MacArthur in Tokyo. General Quinn was put in charge of intelligence for the amphibious assault at Inchon. The attack, carried out by Marines and joined by Army troops two days later, turned the tide of battle in the first phase of the war. He then served as intelligence officer of the X Corps.

In January 1951, he was given command of the 17th Infantry Regiment. The unit had just received a new radio call sign–“Buffalo”–and he decided to call his troops “The Buffaloes.” He also started a publicity campaign aimed at hometown newspapers. Two newspaper correspondents gave him the nickname “Buffalo Bill,” and it stuck for the rest of his life.

“Almost overnight, the Buffaloes became famous,” wrote Clay Blair in “The Forgotten War,” a history of the Korean War. “Hundreds of GIs requested a transfer to the outfit; some, General Quinn boasted, even went AWOL to join.”

Over the next eight months, General Quinn was awarded the Silver Star, for personally reorganizing a stalled attack, and the Bronze Star with combat “V,” for leading a patrol eight miles into enemy territory. Other decorations included the Legion of Merit and Purple Heart.

In September 1951, he returned to the United States. In 1953, he went to Greece for two years with the Joint Military Aid Group. His later assignments were in this country and Germany. He was director of public information from 1959 to 1961, and deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 1961 to 1964, when he took command of the 7th Army in Germany.

William Wilson Quinn, who was born in Crisfield, Maryland, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1933 and was commissioned in the infantry. He also graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College and the National War College.

After retiring from the Army, he was a vice president of the Aerospace Group of the Martin Marietta Corporation until 1972. He then established Quinn Associates, a consulting firm.

General Quinn, a resident of Arlington, was honorary colonel of the 17th Infantry, a consultant to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, a trustee of the National Historical Intelligence Museum and a member of the Army & Navy and Chevy Chase clubs and the Talbot County (Maryland) Historical Society.

Survivors include his wife, the former Bette Williams, whom he married in 1939, of Arlington; three children, Sally Quinn, the writer who lives in Washington, Donna Quinn Robbins of Oakland, Calif., and William Jr., of Phoenix; and four grandchildren.


On Monday, September 11, 2000 at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Funeral services, 11:30 a.m., Thursday, September 14 at St. Alban's Church, 3001 Wisconsin Ave., NW, followed by interment with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery at 1:30 p.m. (Meet at Memorial/Main Gate.) In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The 17th Infantry Association, 2423 Bailey, Dearborn, Michigan, 48124.

Posted on Thursday, May. 19, 2005


THINKING OF EVERYTHING: Bette Quinn, the consummate Southern cook,
planned the menu for her own funeral.

Courtesy of the Washington Post Service

My mother was from Savannah, Georgia. She was a real Southern cook. What that means to me is that you are not happy unless you have grease running down your elbows when you eat. Our food wasn't just fried. It was fried in bacon grease. She kept a jar of it on the kitchen counter. We had fried chicken and fried okra and fried grits and even fried pound cake.

But her favorite dish was chicken and dumplin's, without the g. Big chunks of juicy chicken in a creamy sauce covered with browned fluffy dumplings. We ate them with butter beans (limas, to you Yankees) and pickled peaches. And champagne. Always champagne. Perrier Jouet. She drank nothing else.

Bette Quinn wasn't just a great cook. She was a great person and a real pistol. Voted the best legs in Savannah, she was the ultimate Southern party girl and a real iconoclast behind that soft, ladylike, flirtatious demeanor. She was my closest friend and confidante. I adored her and she cherished me. We never had a harsh word between us in all my life.

She died in September of last year. But not before she had planned the menu for her funeral. My mother judged a party by the food. If you asked her how a party was, she would inevitably answer, “Well, they had a beautiful country ham.”

The worst indictment was if they ran out of food. ”Yankees tend to run out of food,” she would observe. (I'm really not prejudiced. I am married to one.)

My mother decided to die. She was 86 and a stroke victim with Parkinson's disease. In the end, she had a hard time swallowing and had to be spoon-fed liquids lying down. Life without being able to eat well was just not worth living. So she simply stopped eating. We all agreed to honor her wishes.

She slowly cut back until one day, about two weeks into her fast, she started drinking only water and then not even that.

At the end of a week without water (we were swabbing her tongue), I took her a bottle of Perrier Jouet. I poured two glasses and held one up to her lips. Then I toasted her for being the most wonderful mother in the world. She smiled, told me she loved me and drank almost a half a glass. It was the last thing she had to drink. She died 36 hours later.

We held the funeral the following week. She was buried with my father at Arlington National Cemetery. Fifteen years earlier, she had given me an empty magnum of Perrier Jouet and told me to save it for her ashes. She wanted to be cremated and buried in it. You can imagine the faces of the people at Joseph Gawler's Sons funeral home when we walked in with the champagne bottle and her instructions. They were very accommodating. When our limo (paid for earlier by my parents) pulled up to the grave site at Arlington, there was the sedan from Gawler's.

My father was a three-star general and had received a full military funeral with a horse-drawn caisson carrying his flag-draped coffin, a gun salute, taps, the works. At my mother's grave site, there were two uniformed, white-gloved soldiers. As the sedan pulled to a stop, they reached in very formally and pulled out the champagne bottle, then marched to the platform under the canopy for the service, followed by family members weeping and laughing at the same time.

The Army chaplain gave a beautiful eulogy, referring to the champagne bottle as ”Mrs. Quinn.” He talked about what unsung heroes Army wives were. We surrounded the bottle with her favorite gardenias as the bagpiper played Amazing Grace. After the funeral, we headed back to the house to prepare for the memorial service and party.

We had asked the caterers to help us out with some of the food; we had given them my mother's recipe for chicken and dumplin's, which was to be the pice de résistance, along with a ham and biscuits, butter beans, pickled peaches and ambrosia.

Fortunately at the last minute, I had requested a tasting. What was waiting for us when we returned from the funeral was a weird-looking gray blob in a plastic container filled with murky liquid. It seems that the Chinese chef had taken a look at the recipe and decided that it was not his idea of dumplings. What we were facing turned out to be a Chinese dumpling in chicken broth. After a few frantic phone calls, the caterers took another crack at the recipe. Then the second tasting turned out to be too salty. The third tasting was perfect.

(You have to be really careful about the salt in this recipe. You don't want it oversalted. On the other hand, my mother insisted, as do all Southerners, that you had to serve salty foods at parties so the guests will drink more and have a better time.)

The service was beautiful. Everyone was handed a glass of champagne before they sat down in the living room. We had dance music, we had toasts (not eulogies) and at the end, we all sang her favorite song, Because of You, which was played at her wedding.

Then the guests hit the buffet. The caterer made almost twice as much chicken and dumplin's as we needed. And do you know that we nearly ran out? It was that good. People were going back for thirds and gushing over how delicious it was.

We were all so pleased at how well everything had gone. But we knew that my mother had been hovering over the buffet table that whole evening. We could feel her spirit and knew that she was happy at how well everyone had eaten. We could hear her voice as she used to go around the table at dinner saying, ”Y'all want some more chicken and dumplin's?” Always, Mama. And another glass of Perrier Jouet, too, to toast the greatest mother in the world.

DATE OF BIRTH: 11/01/1907
DATE OF DEATH: 09/11/2000

DATE OF BIRTH: 01/27/1918
DATE OF DEATH: 09/26/2004

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