Three Decades at Sea


Seen here is the uniform of Captain Frank Quinn, who served with distinction during WW2, Korea, and Vietnam. Notably, he was awarded the Bronze Star for his part in firing the last naval shot of the Korean War.
Frank Quinn began his military career by enlisting in Chicago in 1942. Throughout WW2 he would travel across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans on Convoy Duty. During Korea he would serve aboard the USS St. Paul and participate in many actions against the Enemy, non more important than the one on July 27th 1953.

Following the end of this command and the Gemini missions, Captain Quinn would spend the rest of his career in Naval institutions, training men and developing new naval tactics. He would retire in 1973 after three wars and thirty-one years in uniform.

Convoy Duty aboard the U.S.S. Gunason 

In November 1943, he was stationed in the Atlantic as a Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) aboard the USS Gunason DE-795, a Buckley-class destroyer escort. After shakedown in April 1944, LTJG Quinn would continue serving on board the Gunason doing convoy escort in the Caribbean and Atlantic oceans, making 3 trans-Atlantic crossings.

During his tour he would be promoted to full Lieutenant. On January 27, 1945, the Gunason sailed from Boston to the South Pacific Ocean, escorting convoys entering and departing Philippine waters.

Over the course of their tour they would survive a pre-dawn air attack off the beach of Hagushi, make a trip to Batan Island with a War Crimes Investigating Detail, conduct a search for a downed plane, finally arriving home to San Diego, CA on December 17, 1945.

Witness to The Atomic Age aboard the U.S.S. Raby

In the Post War Era between 1945-1951, Frank Quinn would rise to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and be stationed upon another Buckley-class destroyer escort, the USS Raby DE/DEC-698, as XO and Navigations Officer.

The Raby reported to the 7th Fleet for duty in the far east on April 6, 1946. She would put in at all the major Asian ports before returning to San Diego on April 9, 1947. Following her return home she was assigned to Task Force 15, and would make two runs from the West Coast to Pearl Harbor.

In December she set out for Eniwetok, then Kwajalein Atoll, finally arriving in Bikini Atoll on May 1, 1948, just thirteen days before Test Zebra. It's believed that during this escort duty, the cargo was related to Operation Sandstone, a series of nuclear weapons tests conducted in 1948. Three tests were carried out in April and May by Joint Task Force 7. They successfully tested a new core design of nuclear bombs, and as a result production of the old cores ceased before the third test had even been completed.

The new Mark 4 nuclear bomb, with its more efficient use of fissionable materials, became the first mass-produced nuclear weapon. Using this new technology, the US was able to triple its nuclear arsenal between May and June, stockpiling 169 of these new bombs.

Test Zebra of Operation Sandstone 1948

U.S.S. Raby in Dazzle Camouflage

The Air-dropped Nuclear fission Mark 4 Bomb

Korea and the U.S.S. St.Paul

During the Korean War of 1951-1953, Lt. Commander Quinn was stationed on board a Baltimore-class cruiser, the USS Saint Paul CA-73. He began his tour in April of 1951 and would remain on board for the remainder of the war.

Arriving off the coast of Wonsan on November 27, the Saint Paul commenced gun strike missions in support of the UN blockade. During the following weeks, she bombarded strategic points at Hungnam, Songjin, and Chongjin. She would also serve as an anti-aircraft escort, take a holiday trip to Japan, and participate in combined air-sea attacks against the ports of Wonsan and Chongjin.

On April 21, 1952, thirty men would lose their lives when a powder fire broke out in the ship's forward 8-inch turret, during operations. The explosion occurred in the turret's left gun, which was loaded but had the breech open. The Gun Captain incorrectly thought the weapon had fired and instructed the gun's Rammerman to ram another projectile into the breech. The gun exploded, setting off two powder bags inside the hoist. Before returning to Japan for repairs, the Saint Paul carried out gun strikes on railroad targets near Songjin, and were successful in capturing nine North Koreans from a small boat.

On February 28, 1953, Saint Paul departed for her third Korean tour. Alongside other ships, she would provide close support to the Korean Army during their mid-June ground assault of Anchor Hill, south of Kosong. During her tour she was fired upon many times by enemy shore based guns, observing numerous near misses, some only ten yards away.

On July 27, she conducted her last gun strike, in which she had the distinction of firing the last naval round shot of the war. The shell, autographed by Rear Admiral Harry Sanders, was fired at an enemy gun emplacement at 2159. The truce was effective at 2200. It was for this action that Lt. Commander Quinn would be awarded the Bronze star.

A Break from War

Following the Korean War, Lt. Commander Quinn was stationed aboard the USS Talladega APA/LPA-208 doing transport and convoy trips all over the pacific. The Talladega was a transport ship with a long and distinguished history fighting in the Pacific during WW2. In 1955, the ship was even featured in the classic war film, "Battle Cry".

Quinn was promoted to the rank of Captain shortly after his time on the Talledega, and put in command of his first ship, a Fletcher-class destroyer, the USS Cushing DD-797. From 1957 until 1959, Cushing served as plane guard and joined in hunter-killer exercises with TF 77, patrolled in the Taiwan Straits, and visited various ports strengthening national ties in the President Dwight D. Eisenhower's "People to People" program.

The program was created in 1956 in response to the horrors President Eisenhower has witnessed in WW2, and was an initiative focused on creating cultural exchange programs globally. The program was used as a means to ease Cold War tensions and many famous personalities were on board, such as Walt Disney, whose 1964 "It's a Small World" attraction was inspired by it.

"Battle Cry" Movie poster 1955.

John Hanes, Ed Lipscom, and Eisenhower discuss the People-to-People program. 1957.

Disney's "it's a small world" New York 1964

To Vietnam and Beyond!

In 1965, Captain Quinn would go to sea for the last time, as the commanding officer of the Neosho-class fleet oiler USS Ponchatoula AO-148. Over the course of the next year, Ponchatoula would participate in recovery operations for Gemini 4, support the recovery ships for Gemini 6 and Gemini 7, and set a new record in the Pacific Fleet by bringing 503 ships alongside, 464 of which she refueled.

Project Gemini was NASA's second human spaceflight program, starting in 1961 and concluding in 1966. The project involved ten Gemini spacecrafts, each carrying two astronaut crew, which flew low Earth orbit missions, putting the US in lead during the Cold War Space Race against the Soviet Union. The objectives of these missions were to perfect the techniques that would allow astronauts to land on the moon.

(Photos: USS Ponchatoula AO-148, Gemini 4 Recovery)

Contact Us

Vancouver Island, CA

About us

The War Dungeon is a private collection and museum on Vancouver Island, BC. Over the past several years, with the help of friends and family, we have renovated the basement of our home into a large museum. The displays here cover from the Boer War, all the way to the Vietnam War of the 1960s.  

We try to cover all aspects and countries involved wherever possible, and we are always looking to add new and interesting displays to help honor the men and women who sacrificed so much for us. We offer guided  tours upon request as well as on site displays for special occasions.

Follow us