Quick was born in Charleston, Kanawaha County, West Virginia, on 20 June 1870. Incidentally, this was 8 years to the day that West Virginia became a State.
He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on 10 August 1892. He was awarded the Medal of Honor “for gallantry in action” in signalling the gunfire support vessel Dolphin (PG-24) while exposed to heavy enemy fire at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on 14 June 1898.
Throughout his 26 year career as a Marine, Quick participating in every campaign the Marines were involved in during his enlistment and he was the holder of several awards for valor. The campaigns he participated in includes The West Indies Campaign, The Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, Cuban Campaign, Battle of Vera Cruz (1914) and , World War I.
During the morning of 14 June 1898, Companies "C" and "D" of Lt. Col Robert W. Huntington's Marine Battalion and approximately fifty Cubans moved through the hills to seize Cuzco Well, the main water supply for the Spanish garrison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The USS Dolphin (PG-24) moved east along the shore ready to furnish naval gunfire support upon call. The Spanish soon discovered the movement and their main body near the Well was alerted. The Marines and Cubans occupied the hill which overlooked the enemy's position, but were immediately subjected to heavy long-range rifle fire. Captain George F. Elliott (later Commandant of the Marine Corps), who had succeeded to command of the Marine Detachment, signaled the Dolphin to shell the Spanish position; but due to the fact that the sender was not clearly visible, the message was misinterpreted, and the vessel began dropping shells on a small detachment of Marines who were enroute to join the fight. The problem of directing the fire of the USS Dolphin was solved by Sergeant Quick who heroically placed himself in plain sight of the vessel, but in danger of falling shells, and signaled for the fire to be stopped. War correspondant and author Stephen Crane, who was with the Marines there, later described the scene in his war tale "Marines Signaling Under Fire at Guantanamo":
During the Philippine-American War, he served as a Gunnery Sergeant in the Samaran campaign from 26 October 1901 to 26 March 1902. He participated in a battle at the Sohoton Cliffs, where he played a decisive role laying down covering fire for the advancing Marines with an M1895 Colt-Browning machine gun, and in Waller's March across Samar under the command of Major Littleton W. T. Waller.
Quick served on expeditionary duty in Mexico (21 April to 23 November 1914).
During the Vera Cruz Campaign of 1914, Quick was again cited for valor during the assault of that Mexican city, for which the Secretary of the Navy commendation says of his performance:
World War I
When World War I began Quick sailed for France as the Battalion Sergeant Major of a battalion of the 6th Regiment.
Retirement and death
Retiring 20 November 1918, Sgt. Major Quick was recalled, at his own request, for the period 26 July – 15 September 1920.
Honors and awards
The World War II era destroyer USS Quick (DD-490) was named in his honor. This vessel earned four battle stars for actions during the War.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 20 June 1870, Charleston, W. Va. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 504 13 December 1898. Other Navy award: Navy Cross.
In action during the battle of Cuzco, Cuba, 14 June 1898. Distinguishing himself during this action, Quick signaled the U.S.S. Dolphin on 3 different occasions while exposed to a heavy fire from the enemy.