Veterans of Bucks County

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Danny Quill

Pfc. Danny Quill (top) was with the 91st Division. James Wilkinson, division
command sergeant major of the 91st Division, pins Quill with the insignia
of the 362nd Infantry Unit, the unit Quill fought in during World War II.
(Photo by Jeff Werner)

Longtime Yardley resident who now makes his home in
Morrisville took part in one of World War II’s largest, bloodiest
and most bitter battles — the fight over Monte Cassino in Italy.

By Petra Chesner Schlatter Staff Editor

U.S. Army Pfc. Danny Quill, a longtime Yardley resident who now makes his home in Morrisville, has the distinction of being the recipient of three bronze stars and has been described as a "valiant soldier" with the 91st Division.

Quill participated in one of World War II’s largest, bloodiest and most bitter battles – the fight over Monte Cassino in Italy.

Quill celebrated his 93rd birthday on Feb.10. For his 91st birthday in 2006, the Yardley community rolled out the red carpet for a celebration with 150 friends and relatives.

“They had a big party at the Elks (Lodge 2023 in Morrisville),” Quill said. “Three came from my old outfit and celebrated my birthday with me.”

Those three special military guests, representing the 91st Division, flew in from the west coast especially for the occasion. They presented Quill with gifts of appreciation for his service to the nation and to the division.

“I cannot tell you how honored I am to be here tonight,” said Division Command Sgt. Maj. James Wilkinson, who had delivered greetings in 2006 from the major general of the 91st. “We wanted you to know that the 91st never forgets a veteran of our rank.”

Wilkinson had attended the event with Catherine Pauley, public affairs operations NCO, and Maj. Kerrie Hurd, public affairs operations officer.

“You are a member of what today is called the Greatest Generation, but I want you to know that another great generation still serves the American people in the 91st,” Wilkinson had continued.
Wilkinson had said that the 91st had been mobilized for the “Global War on Terrorism since January 2003” and that soldiers had been deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. The 91st is the oldest division of the U.S. Army.

Members of the 91st Division during World War II earned 33 Distinguished Service Crosses and 564 Silver Stars for heroism. One of the Medal of Honor recipients served in Quill’s regiment, the 362nd Infantry.

“You are linked to all the history of our great division and we want you to know how proud we are of your service and the legacy that you and your brothers in arms left for those of us who still serve proudly in the 91st,” Wilkinson aid. “You have a place in our history, but more importantly you have a place in our hearts.”

In a gesture of respect and thanks for Quill’s service Wilkinson had presented Quill with a letter from Maj. Gen. Bruce E. Zukaukas, the commanding general of the 91st Division, expressing a debt of gratitude for Quill’s selfless service.

The 2006 birthday celebration was a surprise. “Who the hell ever expected something like that?” Quill had said about the three representatives from the 91st who flew across the country to celebrate with him.

“See what he gave me?” Quill said, proudly holding up a military decoration given to him by Wilkinson. “Just before he left, he took it off his tie and gave it to me.

“I don’t know whether I deserved all that or not,” said Quill.

Two years later, Quill talked in an interview about missing his fellow soldiers upon his return home from World War II. “We all left and I didn’t see any others. There wasn’t anyone around here that served with me. I joined the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) the American Legion.
“I guess I’m the oldest. My buddies treat me great. I can’t find anybody like ‘em.”

Quill is well-known and well-loved in Yardley as the outgoing singer of traditional Irish music. He said on Feb. 15, he would be heading to the Legion for a party at 8 p.m. “I will probably sing, ‘Danny Boy.’ I am going to raise Cain!”

On Memorial Day in Yardley, Quill rides in the parade on Yardley Borough’s South Main Street. “I love the parade. Everybody knows me. I worked in Pennsbury schools. All of them (students) are grown up now and they have children. When I come through the Yardley parade, they’re yelling, ‘Danny Boy!! Danny Boy!!” Before working for the school district as a custodian for 11 years, Quill was a rose grower for 40 years with Heacock Florist in Yardley.

On the more solemn Veteran’s Day, Quill said he thinks of “what happened during the war, why I was in the war, and coming home, and how everybody treated us. God Bless the ones that didn’t come home.

“I wish they were here with me to have the good time, but they can’t be here…I have a good time on Veteran’s Day. I go over to the Vets’ (building). They have a party. They have all the veterans down from the manor. I sing ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral (The Irish Lullaby)’.

“My wife (Ann Burke Quill) and I used to go to the Vets’ when she was living. She’d play the piano and I would sing on meeting nights and for little parties. She was Irish -- a beautiful lady. I miss her.”

At the end of the war, Quill was anxious to get home. His future wife was waiting for him. They were married in 1946.

Today, the former rose grower prides himself on being a top seller of red poppies around Memorial Day. He and his fellow veterans set up a table each year in McCaffrey’s Supermarket in Yardley. “Last year, I sold over 5,000.”

When asked why he devotes so much of his time selling poppies, Quill said, “I think of those boys and I like to do it. I’m doing it for a good cause. I like to raise money for disabled vets. I’ve seen a lot of them wounded.”

Each year around Memorial Day, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members and American Legion Auxiliary volunteers distribute millions of bright red poppies in exchange for contributions to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans.

At age 93, Quill still keeps busy raising funds for the community and putting smiles on people’s faces when he greets them.

For Yardley’s Garden of Reflection, the memorial built in remembrance of those who perished in 9-11, Quill sold chances and collected donations for the cause. He raised “thousands and thousands of dollars.” Quill has also raised money for cancer research.

One of Quill’s favorite pastimes is visiting McCaffrey’s Supermarket — just to see friends and to be around people. When he walks through the store, the employees greet him by name. The store is located down the street from his former residence.

Jim Murphy of Levittown often drives Quill to the store. “He’s the best friend I have. I have no license or cars. He takes me all over.”

What does freedom mean to Quill? “To be happy go-lucky, love everybody and have a good time — and good health. That’s freedom to me.”

Having served in World War II, Quill has been outspoken about the Iraq War. “I think it’s a shame. I just wish they’d settle it and come home.”

What advice would he give to people serving in Iraq and Afghanistan? “Be careful. Good luck and God bless them.”

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