Medal of Honor Citation

Original General Order

John H. Quick was born 20 June 1870, in Charlestown, West Virginia, and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, 10 August 1892, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He served continuously in the Corps on board naval vessels and ashore in all parts of the world until 20 November 1918, when he as placed on the retired list. At his own request, he was again placed on active duty on 26 July 1920, in the Marine Corps recruiting service in St. Louis, Missouri, but was again placed on the retired list 15 September 1920, on account of bad health.

It was in Cuba during the Spanish-American War that his gallantry was the subject of official dispatches and a number of commendations, which resulted in his being awarded the Medal of Honor. The USS Panther arrived in Guantanamo Bay at about 1:00 p.m., 10 June 1898, and soon began landing LtCol Robert W. Huntington's Battalion of Marines. A camp site was selected on the top of a hill where the old Spanish blockhouse had been located and was renamed McCalla Hill in honor of Commander Bowman H. McCalla of the USS Marblehead.

After repulsing a number of Spanish attacks during the first few days, it was decided to capture Cuzco Well (located about six miles southeast of Camp McCalla and near the coast) the only water supply for the Spanish forces in the vicinity.

During the morning of 14 June 1898, Companies "C" and "D" and approximately fifty Cubans moved through the hills to seize Cuzco Well. The USS Dolphin moved east long the shore ready to furnish naval gunfire support upon call. The Spanish soon discovered the movement and their main body near the well was alerted. The Marines and Cubans occupied the hill which overlooked the enemy's position, but were immediately subjected to heavy long-range rifle fire. Capt George F. Elliott (later Commandant of the Marine Corps), who had succeeded to command of the Marine Detachment, signaled the Dolphin to shell the Spanish position; but due to the fact that the sender was not clearly visible, the message was misinterpreted, and the vessel began dropping shells on a small detachment of Marines who were enroute to join the fight. The problem of directing the fire of the USS Dolphin was solved by Sgt Quick who heroically placed himself in plain sight of the vessel, but in danger of falling shells, and signaled for the fire to be stopped, using a blue flag belonging to the Cubans. Due to the fact that the background was very poor for visibility, Sgt Quick scrambled to the top of the hill where he was plainly silhouetted against the sky-blue horizon. As he calmly turned his back to the enemy and began waving his flag, he was immediately subjected to a furious enemy rifle fire. While enemy bullets cut through the bushes and screamed overhead, he continued to signal the Dolphin as coolly as though he were on a parade ground. Letter by letter the message to the ship was spelled out in the dot-dash code. When Sgt Quick finished this message, the ship answered. He then picked up his rifle and resumed his place on the firing line. The Dolphin shifted her fire and by 2:00 p.m. the Spaniards had begun to retreat. For this deed, Sgt Quick was awarded the Medal of Honor.

During the Philippine Insurrection, he served in the Samoan campaign from 26 October 1901 to 26 March 1902, participating in the heroic march across Samar. Shortly after the personnel of Company "C", 9th U.S. Infantry, had been massacred at Balangiga by the insurrectos, a vigorous campaign against the rebellious elements of the island of Samar began. A battalion of Marines (14 officers and approximately 300 enlisted men) under Maj Littleton W.T. Waller was organized at Cavite on Luzon Island and sent to take part in the campaign.

After that expedition, he settled down to a more peaceful routine. He performed various duties in many places until the trouble of 1906 in Cuba where he served with the Marines in the Army of Cuban pacification. After serving in the various enlisted grades, he was appointed to the rank of sergeant major on 12 November 1905, and continued in that rank throughout the remainder of his service.

During another period of quiet, SgtMaj Quick served as First Sergeant at St. Juliens Creek, the Marine Barracks at Washington, D.C., and other stations in the United States. Then came the Battle of Vera Cruz, Mexico, in April 1914 when Marines were landed on the fire-swept beaches and advanced into the city. The Secretary of the Navy commended John Quick for his gallantry during the occupation:


"He was continually exposed to fire during the first two days of the operation and showed coolness, bravery, and judgement in the prompt manner in which he performed his duties."


Vera Cruz was the end of the lull before the storm. There was trouble in Haiti, in Santo Domingo, and the big scrap in Europe was looming more portentous every day. When it came, SgtMaj Quick was ready, sailing for France as Sergeant Major of a battalion of the 6th Regiment, U.S. Marines. Belleau Wood was only the opening battle of the World War for him; he participated in every battle that was fought by the Marines in France until 16 October 1918: the Toulon Sector at Verdun, the Battle of Belleau Wood, the Aisne-Marne Offensive (popularly known as the Battle of Soissons), the Marbache Sector near Pont-a-Mousoon, the St. Mihiel Offensive, the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge, and the Meuse-Argonne Sector. His gallantry in the Battle of Belleau Wood earned for him the Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross. He earned these decorations on 6 June 1918, when "he volunteered and assisted in taking a truckload of ammunition and material into Bouresches, France, over a road swept by artillery and machine-gun fire, thereby relieving a critical situation." He was further awarded the 2d Division Citation and the French Fourragere.

Sergeant Major John J. Quick died in St. Louis, Missouri, on 10 September 1922.  He was buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Jennings, Missouri.

Spanish American War 1898 Medal of Honor

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