For his actions on June 14, 1898, Charles Town native John Henry Quick earned the Medal of Honor. His heroism occurred during a joint American-Cuban attack on the Spanish garrison at Guantanamo Bay during the Spanish-American War.
On June 14, Quick’s Marine battalion and about 50 Cuban soldiers were trying to capture the well that supplied water to the Spanish. An American gunboat, the Dolphin, was providing cover for the mission, but due to visibility problems, the boat started shelling American Marines by accident.
Sergeant John Henry Quick ran forward, placed himself in clear sight of the gunboat, and used a blue polka-dot neckerchief as a signal flag. While Quick got the Dolphin to redirect its shelling, he also attracted intense gunfire from the Spanish garrison. Author Stephen Crane, who was working as a war correspondent, witnessed the entire event and wrote of Quick, “He was the very embodiment of tranquility in occupation.” Thanks to Quick, the Spanish were defeated that day. During his 26-year Marine career, Quick also fought in the Philippine-American War, at Veracruz in 1914, and in several key battles of World War I.