Bonnie Agnew Quigley:
This article appeared on the front page of our local paper on
September 25, 2004 about my family. . .
I think our main effort now is to curb terrorism. I’d rather face them in their backyard than in ours.' Dan Quigley
A trying return
55-year-old LaPorte reservist heading to Iraq
LAPORTE — When he was 17 years old in November 1966, Dan Quigley enlisted in the U.S. Army, knowing full well that he would be going to the Vietnam War.
Thirty-eight years later, the husband, father of four and grandfather to four with one due in November, is on his way back to war.
Quigley, 55, sergeant in the 938 th military police in the Indiana Army National Guard located in Michigan City, will be deployed along with 44 other members of his detachment in November.
"If you have the ability to defend your country and you don't, then shame on you," the LaPorte resident said from his east side home on Wednesday.
The south-side Chicago native has long been defending his country, starting in 1966 when he chose to enter the armed forces after graduation.
"I didn't want to be in the infantry. I wanted a choice of jobs," Quigley said, wearing a T-shirt boasting a U.S. flag.
So he became an aircraft engine mechanic because as he says, "I like to take things apart and put them back together."
The second oldest of nine children began his tour of duty on Jan. 1, 1968 when he flew from California over an airstrip in Vietnam, where he was dropped from an airplane.
In less than a year's time, that experience would change him forever.
"I saw a lot of death and destruction," Quigley, a door gunner at times on a helicopter gunship, said.
He returned to the U.S. in December 1968, and despite widespread sentiment against the war and U.S. soldiers, he remained patriotic.
"(The Vietnam War) reinforced my love of the U.S. and of home," he said.
Bonnie changes everything
That tumultuous period of combat left him standoffish and resistant to growing close to anyone. That would slowly change after meeting Bonnie at a graduation party in June of 1969. The two, who only lived a mile apart from each other and went to high school together, met for the first time that summer.
"It was magical for me. I think it was for the both of us," Bonnie said as she looked over at Dan sitting at the kitchen table.
Placed on inactive reserve from '69 to '74, Quigley didn't see any military action. The two would marry the following year in 1970 and settle in LaPorte in 1974. The playful and affectionate banter between the two is obvious. "You're a knucklehead," he tenderly jokes. "I know it," Bonnie replies with her trademark smile bursting from her face. While Bonnie was a stay-at-home mom raising four children, Joe, Katy, Rose and Kevin, Dan provided an income by working multiple jobs over the years. "He can do everything. He's amazing," Bonnie said.
He's a cabinetmaker, a car salesman, he knows roofing, electrical and plumbing and for the last 16 years he's performed maintenance for Mayes Management in LaPorte.
Life on alert
In 1989, with a job he liked and four kids at home, Dan re- entered the military, this time in the Indiana Army National Guard in the 113 th Combat Engineers, so he could obtain the retirement benefits. Eighteen months ago, he joined the 45-person military police unit in Michigan City.
For more than two years he's been on military alert — a status that has been on the concerned minds of his family and friends.
"It's kind of a strain on everybody. We like our lifestyle here," Bonnie said.
Then last week the news finally came: Dan's commanding officer e-mailed him saying that he and the others would be deployed to the
It's not something that Dan, who's a blend of tough cool and sly funny, is afraid to face. The main mission, he said, has been accomplished in training Iraqi military and police, but he
acknowledges there is still much work to be done.
"I think our main effort now is to curb terrorism. I'd rather face them in their backyard than in ours," says Dan, wearing a straight face. "They had a civilization run by thugs and now it's law and order. I like the freedom they are experiencing in Afghanistan and I hope to see that spread to other (Middle Eastern) nations."
While in the Middle East, Dan said his detachment would be responsible for a variety of security tasks, including traffic control and protecting dignitaries on visits.
It's evident that Dan appears mentally and psychologically ready for the task that waits ahead of him.
"It's an adventure. I'm privileged to be in good health, which will enable me to do this," he said.
While Bonnie believes her husband is also prepared, she continues to cringe at the thought of him spending nine to 15 months in harm's way.
"I'm really concerned," she says as she looks upon her husband of 34 years. "(But) I think there's a place for older, mature men in the military because of the guidance they can provide.
"I just never thought this was something I would have to face."
While it's quite common for twenty something soldiers to leave their wives and children behind for the Middle East, a man in his
50s with a wife, children and grandchildren leaving for the same place just quite isn't.
"I like him the way he is. And I would like for him to come back the way he is," she said.
Asked if he's afraid of death, Dan responded, "No. I'm not scared. The law of averages plays into it. If your number is up, it's up. That's the only way you can maintain sanity."
Now comes the hardship for the Quigley family of preparing to say goodbye to the patriarch.
Bonnie, an employee of the La-Porte County Prosecutor's Office and community theater director, is well aware that she has a solid
support system in place when Dan heads overseas.
"If this should happen to someone, it's me," says the gregarious Bonnie. "I got the children, grandchildren and tons of friends."
Her network of friends and family are within walking distance of her home.
His son, Joe, who served nine years active duty in the Air Force, is proud of his father.
"My dad carries his duty first. He's ready," said Joe, 33, husband and father of two. "I think my father and I agree about the nature of duty for a soldier; about what that contract, that
Dan's daughter, Rose Lees, 29, says since she, her husband and two children, Jillian and Sam, see him everyday, it will be very difficult to see her father leave for months.
"I hate to see him leave behind his children and grandchildren," says Rose. "I'm going to miss him terribly. We are so close. We hear
his truck going by in the morning and Jillian asks where is he going."
War isn't just for the young guys
Bonnie (and anyone else interested);
Going along with what you were talking about I don't know how many know of this. Jim Alexander (67) stayed in the Army Reserve and has been activated since Jan, 2004. I just talked to Jim last week. He's at Ft. Benning, GA and is 1st. Sgt. for his Company. He was told it was initially going to be a one year deployment. It looks like the one year will now be extended by another 9 months. As with most reservists, Jim had to leave his job and wife and 4 kids to be deployed.
As Bonnie's memo said 55 is a little too old to be fighting wars. But Jim says he is up at 4:00 AM everyday and then P.T. and a two mile run and 14 hour days. Alex sure took a turn since the days we use to cut school and drink all afternoon. But, he said he may come down here if he gets some leave time in Nov.
In the current Iraq war, the number of wounded to dead is about ten to one. This is far different from the U.S. experience in Vietnam or even the Soviets in Afghan. There, the ratios were wounded to dead of about three or four to one. Medical care for wounded is SO good now, that a whole lot of guys, and women too now, are coming back with horrific wounds that would have previously killed them. Lots of troops losing limbs and surviving with prosthesis and a lot of rehab. And a lot of wounded dying from shrapnel wounds from roadside bombs striking under the armpit where the body armor does not protect. Strangely enough, during the time, centuries ago now, of the rapier and dagger era, as described in some of Shakespeare's plays, the most common wound that would kill was a strike under the armpit. Your lung is pierced and you bleed to death slow.
Thanks for the invitation to speak of our lives since Empehi. I’m struggling with the desire to give you the cutesy, sanitized version of mine, but I’d be doing what I did at Clissold and MPHS, and a few other places……hiding.
So here’s the real story, edited to fit your screen. Most of us grew up in nice houses on nice streets in a nice neighborhood…..I’m no exception. As they say, beauty is only skin
deep……What went on inside my house during my Clissold and early Empehi years wasn’t nice. In fact it was criminal, but back then schools didn’t stick their noses into home like they do now, and the Police weren’t much better. A familiar story….violent, abusive
alcoholic dad and co-dependant mom.
The message constantly sent to my brother, sister and I….”You’re no *ucking good”…..my job in Clissold and MP……and later……keep you from finding out. My years at Clissold and MP were scary and painful, to put it mildly. Added to the normal angst of growing up was the constant fear you all would find out about me. I don’t have to tell you how that all played out on a daily basis….you were there. It never felt to me like I belonged anywhere. A chance (?) encounter with Mr. Hurst in sophomore year, and an invitation to skip boy’s chorous
and go straight to A Capella kept me from dropping out….and probably saved my sorry ass. Those years in room 101, the concerts,
the road trips, the nights at Melody Lane, were the best. It gave me some hope that maybe dad was wrong.
I spent a lot of time at the firehouse on Homewood, too….It was safe there….they didn’t chase me out. It was like they knew. I
found out years later that they DID know.
Their sheltering set the stage for a 30 year career. After graduation I went fulltime with CFD, ‘til I enlisted in the U.S. Navy. I ended up like John Wayne, in the Fighting Seabees, in
beautiful downtown Vietnam. I was detached to MAC-V, and spent 18 months flying around I and II Corps fixing communications equipment for the CIA (who, by the way, wasn’t there), getting shot at, mortared, rocketed, and very addicted to pot and booze. When I got home, I went back to the fire service in the northern suburbs,and also opened an electrical contracting company. Like my father, I excelled at my work…..but failed at everything else.
The addictions progressed until 1978, when I came out of a blackout to find myself in a locked room with no idea what happened or where I’d been for the past week. Two wives and a daughter had come and gone in my life, what few friends I had left.
I was given a choice….change or die. I wasn’t sure I could change, but I was also sure I didn’t want to die. With the support of my
boss and a host of other alkies, I got sober and life got better. My career in the FD and my contracting business progressed nicely.
Relationships improved, too, but the wounds of the past would not be denied, and continued to interfere in everyday life.
In 1995 I was invited to do a men’s weekend with the New Warrior Community. What happened to me on that weekend, and in the years following would prove to be life-changing beyond my wildest dreams. In a nutshell, I was given the opportunity to dive head-first into the
secrets I’d been keeping my whole life, to take ownership of those shadows, and heal the shame I carried, and most of all, to stop
Esther, my wife of 19 years, did a weekend for women shortly after I did mine, and the change in our relationship has been dramatic. Today we both are actively engaged in the community, serving on the staffs of these men’s and women’s weekends, helping men and women begin to heal the wounds inflicted on them long ago.
I left the fire service in 1994 after 30+ years. I’m glad I was there, but I don’t miss it.
I left the fire service in 1994 after 30+ years. I’m glad I was there, but I don’t miss it.
I spend my time running my electronics business, working with adolescents who, like me, had no one to turn to to help them grow up, teaching 3rd and 4th year electrical apprentices, keeping exotic birds who make me laugh on a daily basis, hanging out with my partner at our 2nd home in northern Wisconsin.
Jan, I have vivid recollections of you, Jan Ann, Sally Wilton, Susie Snow, and the others on the sidelines of Gately Stadium on those wonderful fall afternoons when we gathered to cheer on the “Pumkinheads” of Empehi….I’m looking forward to the reunion..especially since I won’t have to spend any time or energy
Thanks to all of you who are working so hard to make this happen!!!!!!!!!
Real life is better than a novel - especially when the story is told from the heart, like yours. It is so hard to talk about something
until you work through it. Your struggle and triumph help us all. Perhaps it is your struggle for self-esteem that encouraged you to choose paths that help others. Thank you for your service to our country and your work at the Fire Department. You've earned a gold star. You've made a difference.
I'm looking forward to seeing you at the reunion.
Judy H W
It was the summer of '69 and it was my 21st birthday...my (then) husband was in Thailand (like Vietnam, only he didn't get hazardous
duty pay or R and R) and I was in Chicago with my seven month old daughter. What a party we had to celebrate the achievements of Apollo 11 and little old me.
Just what I needed tonight was an e-mail from AOL reminding me that the best birthday party I ever had was 36 YEARS AGO!
Kindly do not further depress me with belated birthday wishes. You can only celebrate the 17th anniversary of your 40th birthday for one day!
One small step for mankind -- it still gives me chills!
"21 in 69" -- why did we think that was SO COOL? Huh, Storms?
Barbary Apes of Gibraltar
"The apes are quite free roaming the "rock" and also coming down into the town.... People sometimes find them in their houses....."
I have been to Gibraltar and observed the Barbary apes. They are actually monkeys, and cute, but mischievous.
The legend has it that the British will always be in Gibraltar as long as the apes are there. So England tries to keep them happy and thriving.
The Spanish would like the British out of Gibraltar, and presumably the monkeys, if that is what it takes.
We had monkeys in Vietnam that we called "Rock Apes" Supposedly they would throw rocks at the troops. I never saw that, but I did see a large troop of them walking on a jungle trail on a ridge line. There was one large monkey leading the group, and another large one that was near the end of the line, keeping all of them together.
My parents spent 3 months in India, on a volunteer project helping a company improve. A company similar to one my Dad worked for, so that he could help them plan their modernization.
The company put my parents up in a nice home, with five servants, but no screens. 4 or 5 very large monkeys invaded the home. My Dad tried to bluff the monkeys back out of the house. They were not easy to bluff, and for a time he thought he was going to have a serious fight. But they finally retreated.
Chuck H June 65
I too was very fortunate to see a lot of Vietnam and found it so beautiful, I did a lot of traveling and all for the Air Force and saw the good and the bad...but the good was certainly beautiful!! I'd go back in a heartbeat myself!
I saw A LOT of the country.......calling it the Switzerland of Asia doesn’t do it justice. I'd go back there in a second just to sit on China Beach again.
My son just finished reading a book by Tiziano Terzani, an Italian journalist, who covered the war in Viet Nam and then returned in the 80's to visit the country again....in the book he called Viet Nam the "Switzerland of Indo-China" because of its landscape....I never heard that before....did you? From films and documentaries it just seemed like a lot of swamp and jungle...
...anyone been there recently?
Most of the Chicago area Reserve Marines are now on active duty in Iraq, including my old units. This article in the Tribune today tells their story well. Most of the Reserves area a little older than the active duty folks, and a little more experienced. Interesting article below.
Chicago GIs join Iraqis in community policing duty
By Rick Jervis
Tribune staff reporter
Published October 3, 2004
MAHMOUDIYA, Iraq -- Capt. Guillermo Rosales has seen it before: tough guys using threats and terror to cower neighborhoods.
To Rosales, the tactics used by Islamic insurgents in this southern suburb of Baghdad are strangely reminiscent of those used by gang members in Pilsen, his old Chicago neighborhood. There, he said, they used drive-bys and 9 mm handguns. Here they use car bombs and assault rifles.
"It's just a bad neighborhood," said Rosales, 35, a platoon commander with the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment. "Back then, I couldn't go to the playground or the store for fear of getting shot. That doesn't change until the community gets together and does something about it."
Rosales, a Marine reservist who lives in Chicago and works for Motorola Corp., leads 43 Marines in the Combined Action Platoon, charged with bringing community policing to hostile pockets of Iraq. CAP Marines are in charge of befriending and sometimes living with residents to try to earn their trust, cultivate intelligence sources and help local militias fight the enemy.
Known as "the Peace Corps with guns," the CAP program--created during the Vietnam War--was touted as one of the more successful counterinsurgency efforts in that conflict.
In Vietnam the Marines lived in villages. In Iraq they mingle with the U.S.-trained Iraqi National Guard.
The CAP Marines in this region, however, are made up entirely of Chicago-area reservists. One of the platoon sergeants is a Tinley Park plumber. A rifleman is a Purdue University student from East Chicago, Ind. There are two Chicago-area bartenders, two Chicago police officers and one Cook County sheriff's deputy.
"It's pretty different from sitting in a police car," said Lance Cpl. Josh Bowers, 26, a patrol officer with the Chicago Police Department's 25th District. "But you use the same skills: observation, being aware of your surroundings."
The CAP platoon arrived in Iraq two weeks ago and rapidly started to get to know the local Iraqi guard's 507th Battalion. The bulk of their days are spent with the Iraqis at their base more than half a mile down Highway 8 from the Marine base.
The Marines arrive early in the morning and share a breakfast of cheese, jams, pita bread and sweet hot tea with their Iraqi counterparts. They oversee rifle-range practice and drill the Iraqis on basic combat techniques. But mostly, they said, they try to pass along good habits, such as cutting down on unauthorized absences and keeping their fingers off the triggers of their rifles while on their base.
"We're still trying to teach them to button their top button and holster their gun," said Lance Cpl. Scott Leck, 25, an officer with the Chicago Police Department's 22nd District.
Sometimes the Marines spend the night with the Iraqis, teaching how to combat ambushes or conduct night patrols, Marine officials said. Through all this, there are cultural exchanges--and cultural differences.
Bowers said he commonly spends night shifts in a watchtower at the Iraqi guard base with a guardsman.
"They always ask about my wife--they want to see a picture of her," he said. "I never want to show them one."
A central challenge for the Marines has been developing trust of their Iraqi colleagues. Many police and security personnel throughout Iraq have switched sides and joined insurgencies, oftentimes turning their guns on coalition forces, or have leaked sensitive information to rebels.
Marines here have launched combined missions--called "jump patrols"--with the Iraqi National Guard in insurgent hotbeds such as nearby Latifiyah, only to find all the men in the households gone for the day, Marine and Iraqi officials said.
"You have to watch what you say around them," Lance Cpl. Brett Maddix, 26, a Cook County sheriff's deputy, said of the Iraqi guardsmen. "We don't even tell them when we're coming to train them."
Nonetheless, jump patrols are at the heart of the CAP mission in Iraq, both as a training tool for the Iraqi guard and as a way for the Marines to interact with the community.
Diligence pays off
Last week, Marine officials received intelligence that insurgents were planning to attack a Marine convoy with a car bomb. That morning, Rosales gathered 12 Marines and seven Iraqi guardsmen to check cars and glean information from residents in an industrial area near the Iraqi guard base.
The troops poked through car trunks at an auto-repair shop, then crossed a small bridge and entered the courtyard of a three-story villa. At first the family—a woman with two young girls and a young boy--shrugged off any mention of weapons or bombs. But after chatting with Rosales for a few minutes, the boy led the Marines to an undetonated 81 mm mortar shell in a pomegranate grove behind the home.
Rosales asked the boy his name in broken but comprehensible Arabic, which he said he learned in a crash course at Camp Pendleton, Calif., before coming to Iraq.
"Farenz," the boy answered.
"Shukran," Rosales said, shaking the boy's hand. Thank you.
Later, the patrol team came to a nearby home where a man in his 20s was chained by his left wrist to the security bars of one of the windows. Through an interpreter, Rosales asked a woman at the home why the man was shackled.
"Because the woman he loves is no good, she's a whore," said the woman, who said she was the man's mother.
After a few more questions, Rosales thanked her and signaled the Marines to move on.
"Tell her," he told the interpreter, "I'm going to tell my mom what moms in this country do for their sons."
Motivation an obstacle
As Rosales spoke with residents, Sgt. Brian Malloy barked orders at the Iraqi guardsmen and some of his own Marines, moving them into cover positions, making sure they were watching suspicious-looking cars and telling them to carry their rifles correctly. One Iraqi guardsman asked if the mission was going to be over soon.
"It's rough," said Malloy, a Tinley Park plumber who had the words "South Side" scrawled on his helmet strap in black marker. "They're combat-ready; they just don't seem to have the motivation we have. I'm not sure they all want to be here."
Though still struggling to bring their troops up to Marine standards and adapt to U.S.-style management, Iraqi guard officials said they were grateful for the Marine know-how and military muscle.
"We know they leave their families and come from far away to help us," guard Sgt. Maj. Asan Sadown said. "We didn't have any freedom before. We hope to see a new and better Iraq with the Marines."
There still are obstacles to overcome and trust to gain. Marines remain distrustful of the Iraqis and still travel around their base in twos--to meetings, training drills, even the bathroom. And the Iraqis still rely heavily on the Marines for firepower and guidance to beat back insurgents who have threatened and killed residents and recently blew up the local police station--demands that fall mostly on Rosales.
"I tell them I understand," he said.
Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune
Matt Vanick spelled his name differently, and he passed away in 2005 according to the Reunion Book. I remember having a long conversation with him about his service in Vietnam at one of the 1966 reunions, probably the 20th.
Vietnam Vets on the Vietnam Memorial Wall
A good Marine friend of mine, Master Gunnery Sergeant Andy Ryal saw his buddy Reggie Baker get badly wounded in Khe Son, Vietnam. Reggie was medevaced. Andy heard that Reggie died. He confirmed this years later by checking the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
A number of years later Andy and I met Cook County Judge and Marine Reserve Colonel Reggie Baker, who survived the war quite nicely. Andy was shocked and very pleasantly surprised. The rumors of Reggie's death had been greatly exaggerated. Another Marine Reggie Baker had died.