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Nebraska Department of Aeronautics
Mr. Ronnie Mitchell, Director

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William A. (Bill) Quinn was born in Omaha NE on November 4, 1921. Bill graduated from Creighton Prep High School when he joined the U S Navy a few weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. After graduation he completed officer training at the University of Iowa and was commissioned as Ensign. After graduation from advanced flight training at NAS Corpus Christi, he was assigned as a co pilot of a Martin PBM Mariner flying boat, assigned to Patrol Squadron VPB-25. His crew was sent to Mindoro Island, Philippines.

His crew completed 31 successful reconnaissance patrols monitoring Japanese naval activity. On the 32'nd patrol they lost an engine and ditched into the sea with 40 to 50 foot rolling swells. After 12 hours in the water the crew was rescued by a U.S. Navy Destroyer and returned to the Philippines. Two patrols later his crew again experienced an engine loss necessitating a landing at Tam Quam Point, French Indochina. One crew member was rescued by submarine while the rest of the crew moved inland to evade the Japanese and the native coastal people of Indochina who were rewarded with a bag of rice for each downed flyer brought to the Japanese. The crew was aided by the French resistance. After evading Japanese patrols for three months, eight members of the crew were captured at Ple Tonan Indo China after a brief firefight in which Bill Quinn was wounded. After harsh interrogation, six of his men were executed. Bill Quinn was the seventh prisoner in line when the executions stopped, sparing him and his radioman. The two remaining prisoners were eventually transported to Saigon where they remained POW's until they were freed on Sept. 5, 1945.

During the C-47 flight from Saigon to Calcutta, India, Bill was asked to relieve the plane's exhausted copilot so he could rest from the around the clock flying former POW's from various locations around South East Asia. As the only surviving witness to the executions at Ple Tonan, Bill provided testimony for the war crimes of six Japanese soldiers which resulted in six murder convictions.

After the war, Bill settled in Omaha and was involved as a sales rep. for Westinghouse Elevators. He then moved to Denver, CO with his wife Bette and raised their three children while operating a construction materials sales company.

 

 

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