Galen Warren Quinn

Sergeant Galen Warren Quinn of South Dakota, U.S.A. arrived in Northern Ireland on 10th May 1942, hobbling down the gangway with a fractured right tibia.


Galen Warren Quinn


Sergeant Galen Warren Quinn (20717925) served in 109th Engineer Combat Battalion, 34th (Red Bull) Infantry Division, United States Army during the Second World War. Born on 28th January 1922, he was the son of Warren Quinn and Lena Nicewonger Quinn, Irish immigrant farmers of Faith, South Dakota, U.S.A.

In civilian life, Galen worked as a schoolteacher. He then enlisted in the South Dakota National Guard as a Private First Class on 10th February 1941 at Sturgis, South Dakota, U.S.A. During the Second World War, he served in North Africa and in the Italian campaign.

Sergeant Quinn in Ulster

On arrival in Northern Ireland, the 5’5″ Sergeant Quinn navigated the gangway in Belfast on crutches. With a fractured right tibia sustained during the crossing, he was first admitted to a medical clearing station. A photograph of the smiling GI appeared in the Belfast Telegraph, Ballymena Weekly Telegraph, and the Larne Times newspapers.

Quinn was part of the third contingent of MAGNET Force arriving in Ulster on 10th May 1942, having departed New York, U.S.A. on 30th April 1942. As part of 109th Engineer Battalion, he either travelled with Company B on U.S.A.T. Mexico or with the remainder of the battalion on U.S.A.T. Cathay.

Life after the War

After the Second World War, Quinn took advantage of the GI Bill to attend dental school at Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A. He then worked in private practice in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, U.S.A. before returning to the same university, joining the faculty, and becoming Dean of the School of Dentistry. He gained a masters degree in orthodontics at the University of Tennessee in Memphis before moving to Durham, North Carolina, U.S.A. in 1958. There, he was Chief and Professor of the Division of Orthodontics at Duke University Medical Center, becoming an expert and pioneer of cleft palate reconstruction and airway interference.

Sergeant Quinn died on 22nd January 2008 aged 85 years old at U.N.C. REX Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Center, Apex, North Carolina, U.S.A. His grave is in Maplewood Cemetery, Durham, North Carolina, U.S.A. Burial with full military honours took place after a service at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on 26th January 2008. Dr. Quinn’s obituary in The News and Observer newspaper stated:

He always remained a cowboy at heart and felt most comfortable wearing his Stetson hat.

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