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Honoring The Life And Service Of Marine Corps Captain Michael Quin

Rep. Frank R. Wolf

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Mr. Speaker, today I rise to honor the life and service of Marine Corps Captain Michael Quin, who tragically lost his life, along with others, during the final training mission before his unit's scheduled deployment to Afghanistan. Captain Quin is a native of Purcellville, Virginia where his parents, Brad and Betsy still reside.

Captain Quin graduated from Loudoun Valley High School and received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, where he graduated in 2006. Michael went on to successfully complete flight school and receive his wings in 2008, graduating at the top of his flight school class. Michael rose quickly as a pilot from 2nd Lieutenant to Captain and was in command of a helicopter.

On February 22, Captain Quin was conducting a training mission at the Yuma Training Range Complex in Arizona when his helicopter collided with another, killing six out of the seven pilots in his squadron. Captain Quin was remembered by the commanding officer and gunnery sergeant of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing as ``one of those rare young captains'' who inspired admiration from all those with whom he served.

Captain Quin's service has been reported on by the Leesburg Today, which I submit for the record, as well as the Loudoun Times Mirror, Purcellville Gazette, and the Blue Ridge Leader. Captain Quin was honored by residents of Purcellville when his body made the return trip from Arizona to Reagan National Airport and finally back home to his family. Marines old and young, police, firefighters, and Boy and Girl Scouts turned out to show their respects for Captain Quin and to show support for his parents, siblings and fiancee.

Captain Quin was an example of leadership and patriotism of which we all can be proud. He chose to serve his country during extremely difficult times and was prepared to wear the uniform of the United States Marine Corps into battle to protect his family and his country. That he lost his life in service to his country is a testament to his bravery.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the thoughts and prayers of the full House of Representatives go out to the Quin family as they honor the exceptional life of their son, Marine Corps Captain Michael Quin.

The tragic impacts of the nation's war effort again are being felt in Loudoun, with the death of U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Michael Quin. The Purcellville resident and 2002 Loudoun Valley High School graduate was killed last week when two helicopters collided while training in Arizona in advance of a deployment to Afghanistan. Mourned by his parents, sisters and fiancee, the death of the 28-year-old naval aviator also has hit the Purcellville community, one that just two years ago paid tribute to another fallen serviceman, Army Specialist Stephan Lee Mace, who was killed in Afghanistan in a fierce firefight with the Taliban. Flags in town will fly at half staff until Quin's burial service at Arlington Cemetery. As of Tuesday, plans for services in Purcellville and at Arlington had not yet been finalized. Michael lost his life, along with six others, in a remote area of the 1.2 million-acre Yuma Training Range Complex in Arizona during the two-week ``Scorpion Fire'' training mission that was to have been his last before being deployed to Afghanistan in April. After graduating Loudoun Valley High School, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2006 and joined the Marine Corps. The tragedy of Quin's death was compounded in that he was in the last stages of his training before his deployment to Afghanistan. It was the last qualification that he needed to emerge with ``top gun'' status for helicopters. Quin had recently become engaged, and had planned to spend a week away with his fiancee before coming home for four or five days with his family before leaving in early April for Afghanistan. His parents Brad and Betsy Quin had seen the report of the fatal crash and when they didn't get a reassuring phone call from their son that all was well, they began to worry. When the Marine officers were sent to deliver the news, both parents were at work, his father in Reston, and his mother in Leesburg. Brad Quin was at lunch, so the officers waited. When he was told there were officers waiting to see him: ``I knew,'' he said. The town has rallied around the Quins and their daughters, Phoebe and Sarah. Brad Quin is a former president of the Locust Grove Homeowners Association and Betsy Quin serves on the board of the HOA's Architectural Review Board. He has been in the college and university world all his life and in admissions and worked for the College Board. Betsy Quin was in the reference department at Rust Library in Leesburg. Mayor Bob Lazaro and his wife Carolyn are friends and neighbors of the Quins, whom Lazaro called ``pillars of the community.'' He credited Brad Quin with being ``the horse power'' behind the Purcellville Volunteer Fire Department's recruitment effort that has led to a doubling of the size of the company. This week, the support of the 100-strong company, the town and area residents are helping the Quins deal with the loss of their first-born child. Capt. Quin's squadron will have a memorial service for him Friday, which his parents will attend before returning to Purcellville. Brad Quin said he hopes the Corps will release his son's body soon. He will return home with a Marine Corps escort, flying into Reagan National Airport where the Washington detachment of the Marine Corps will hold an arrival ceremony before the long trip back to Purcellville to Hall Funeral Home. Looking back on his son's life, ``He was the kind of kid who didn't really require much correction from us,'' his father said, noting Michael Quin seemed to have the ability to naturally make good choices in life. Before 9/11 patriotism welled up in the country, Michael was like other kids of his generation--dedicated to his family, sisters, studies and his soccer team. Brad Quin has been in the college world all his career, but was somewhat surprised by his son's choice of the Naval Academy, not the most obvious fun and typical fraternity college opportunity. ``But he wanted to express what he wanted to be as a person,'' he said. Michael Quin seemed to have this sense of looking at ``something else down the road,'' to his decision to join the Marine Corps, his father said. When Brad Quin asked him why he had applied to join the Corps, his son seemed to appreciate the support system the force represented, the way its members gave each other total support no matter their function or level within the Corps. At the Naval Academy, it was tough going at first. The curriculum is heavy on science, and students graduate with bachelors of science degrees, even if you're studying history and Spanish, as Michael Quin did. But he sucked it up, did what he was supposed to be as a plebe--invisible. ``I could see he was growing, and he had this sense of something else coming down the road,'' his father said, noting that perception has been borne out by statements posted on the website set up to collect memories and tributes, michael quin.com. As a 2nd lieutenant, Michael Quin chose to be a naval aviator. He learned to fly planes first at the naval base at Pensacola, FL, before moving on to helicopters. Intermittently, during training, he hooked up with a squadron in Atlanta, GA, and there was a mutual adoption. When after two years the young 2nd Lieutenant was ``winged'' Dec. 2, 2008, they all supported him. His parents' pride in those naval aviator's wings of gold ``is more than you can imagine,'' Brad Quin said. From there, Capt. Quin immediately went to the West Coast where the Marine Corps were forming new squadrons. He rose through the ranks to 1st Lieutenant in command of his first ship, then to captain. He was No. 1 in the Marine Corps' flight school, where he chose to fly Hueys. His closeness to and support of others was noticeable during a tough time in which additional training and certifications were needed to join a helicopter ``fraternity of very capable guys,'' his father said. His commanding officer was a ``tough, square-jawed Marine, with a call sign of `Beast,' '' Brad Quin said. When the CO called him last Friday, after introducing himself, he revealed he had lost six of seven pilots from his squadron. There were 100 Marines working on the aircraft. When the lieutenant colonel said he had asked the crews to tell him about Capt. Quin, the officer himself became choked with emotion. There was enormous support and liking for Michael Quin, whom the crews thought one of ``those rare young captains,'' who didn't denigrate them but lived out the tradition that everyone supports those who do the dirty work. For Brad and Betsy Quin, it is comforting to know that a wizened gunnery sergeant told his CO that in all his life in the force, ``he was the best.'' For now, it is the support of the Purcellville community that is a huge comfort. Brad Quin is a volunteer certified firefighter, vice president and chairman of membership for the company. ``How supportive everyone has been, the fire department and the town, just like a big family.'' The loss has hit home in Purcellville and in the fire company. To lose your life when you're ``training to do what you do is horrific,'' Purcellville Volunteer Fire Company Chief Bob Dryden said. To be one of the top students in flight school, as Michael Quin was, and ``this is the way you go out after spending all that time--it's not fair.'' Dryden has been in constant touch with the Quins. ``Once we know the final date [for burial in Arlington], the company will begin its planning in earnest,'' something along the lines of the plans and ceremony for Mace two years ago. ``We'll welcome him home in the proper way,'' Dryden said. Mace was killed Oct. 3, 2009, along with seven other U.S. soldiers, defending the Camp Keating outpost in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan against more than 300 Taliban and other insurgents. Mace was a 2005 Loudoun Valley graduate.www.