Quentin De Nio, a 94 year old WW II veteran, still carries his white U.S. Army flag to honor soldiers buried at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, according to a news report.
On Dec. 28, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that De Nio still carries out his flag-bearing duties as member of the Memorial Rifle Squad. He is the second oldest member of that squad.
“We’ve got some nice young guys who are 68 from the Vietnam era and they push my ass up the three steps and into the bus,” said De Nio, according to the Star Tribune. “A lot of guys want to fire a rifle because they were in the Navy or Air Force and never got a chance,” De Nio later added. “I said, ‘Just give me a flag.'”
The Star Tribune mentioned that the memorial squad has honored upwards of 64,000 veteran funerals at Fort Snelling National Cemetery since it began rendering final salutes in 1979.
De Nio is quoted as saying that he went over to Fort Snelling in 2000 after everyone on his former honor guard “died off.” He used to belong to the Richfield Veterans of Foreign War Post 5555 Honor Guard.
According to the Star Tribune, “Destination Unknown” was part of De Nio’s 1941 infantry papers.
“De Nio arrived in Hawaii three months after the Pearl Harbor attack. With action on Saipan and Okinawa, he recalls his landing craft ‘getting peppered’ and ‘the time I was carrying a rifle and a radio and looked up and saw the top of the antenna missing: Someone was aiming at anything shiny,'” stated the report.
De Nio met Virginia Swinnburne after moving to Minneapolis in 1939 from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She was his wife for 64 years. He fathered four children with Virginia and is now the grandfather of 16 and great-grandfather of seven.
The WW II veteran owned a printing shop after using his GI Bill to attend Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the Memorial Rifle Squad “has served as the ‘benchmark’ for veterans organizations from other national cemeteries desiring to form an honor guard unit to provide the final salute to deceased veterans. A special note of interest is that their average age is 71.6, and they have never missed a scheduled service during their existence because of inclement Minnesota weather.”
The Fort Snelling National Cemetery is located south of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport.