Tom Quigley never forgot the sacrifices that he and his fellow soldiers made when they fought against the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge, a pivotal turning point in World War II that ultimately led to Germany’s defeat.
He was wounded twice and received the Legion of Honor award from France for his bravery and for helping to free the country, but he chose to live his life quietly and modestly.
Thomas Clayton Quigley, 93, died in his sleep Oct. 19, his family said.
“I think that anyone who knew Tom knew that he was a lot of fun and he had a great sense of humor,” said his wife of 69 years, Barbara Quigley.
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“He was super patriotic, and he thought everyone who served deserved the credit,” she said.
Mr. Quigley served in the 2nd Infrantry Division — “Indianhead.” A first lieutenant, he received medals including two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars. Last spring, he also received Bedford’s first Hometown Hero award given to residents with outstanding aaccomplishments.
In an interview with the Star-Telegram at the time, Mr. Quigley described his feeling about World War II.
“I don’t think people realize how serious World War II was. The Germans were a mighty force, and I think they ran pretty roughshod over Europe,” he said.
Mr. Quigley was born on Aug. 14, 1922, in Detroit.
After he completed officer candidate school, he crossed the Atlantic in a crowded troop transport ship. Mr. Quigley and the other soldiers practiced their maneuvers in England before crossing the channel for Normandy, where they landed on Omaha Beach.
Mr. Quigley told the Star-Telegram about two frightening experiences while fighting against the Germans in France.
He was crouched behind a tank when the vehicle got stuck crossing a creek in Normandy.
“You’re not marching. You are scrambling,” he said. “The road sloped down to the creek. There were mortar rounds going off everywhere.”
Quigley received medals including two Purple Hearts and the Legion of Honor award from France.
One of them exploded near Mr. Quigley, and a hand-size piece of shrapnel landed in his knee.
In another incident, Mr. Quigley and several of his men were hiding in a 10-story apartment building. A second lieutenant who had recently arrived from the United States came up the stairs to where Quigley was and said, “I want to kill some Germans.” Mr. Quigley told the officer to stand back from the window, but the officer shot his rifle out the window, attracting the attention of the Germans, who fired back. A bullet shattered an ashtray, and one of the broken pieces lodged in Mr. Quigley’s arm.
Mr. Quigley was in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, when Germany surrendered to the Allies in 1945. He returned to the United States and met his wife while stationed at Camp Swift near Austin.
He never talked about the war until he saw the film “Saving Private Ryan.”
Keith Quigley described how his father never talked about World War II until they saw the movie Saving Private Ryan. “That experience really changed him,” Keith Quigley said, describing how his father became more gregarious and friendly as a result.
“He would be the one to strike up conversations with waiters and waitresses and people in stores,” Keith Quigley said.
Kay Quigley said her father also loved teaching neighborhood children how to build things such as birdhouses and showing them how to draw the designs and cut the wood.
“He was a teacher; he was Irish and had that Irish wit,” she said.
Other survivors include daughter Barbette, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held for Mr. Quigley at 11 a.m. Nov. 16 at the Northeast Wedding Chapel, 1843 Precinct Line Road in Hurst.