By Bruce Auld News Review Staff Writer– Veterans Day is quickly approaching. We will be in Warrenton, Virginia, celebrating our grandson’s, Dylan de Geus’, twelfth birthday. He was born on November 11, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. Close call.
Seven of our Indian Wells Valley sons went to Vietnam and gave their lives in service to our great nation. Many more served, returning to the valley and elsewhere with severe disabilities, both physical and mental, that for decades neither they nor society recognized.
Phil Quinton was a latecomer to the Indian Wells Valley, which is a difficult assignment. He and I were members of the class of 1966. Most of us had been together since kindergarten. As such, Phil characterized himself at Burroughs as a “quiet kid.” My adult life path was determined by Bakersfield College’s interest in me as a water polo player (pretty bad) and a swimmer (pretty good). Phil’s family moved to Inyokern in 1962. His mother worked at Flossie’s Variety Store in Inyokern. His father was a firefighter. Phil’s adult life path began with deployment to Vietnam as a Seabee heavy equipment operator.
After his deployment, Phil studied at UCLA for one quarter. Then he returned to the valley to first work at Shopping Bag (Bennington Plaza on Base) and then the Louisiana Pacific sawmill near Pearsonville. Prior to deployment, Phil was a calm, quiet individual. Upon returning stateside, he was an angry individual, not realizing that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and for the rest of his life dealing with the lingering effects of Agent Orange exposure.
Sawmill work is dangerous work. Phil suffered a serious injury that left him permanently disabled. He began self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. “I moved to Ontario, California, and attended college. My addictions grew worse as the pain increased. It cost me my first marriage and my job. I spent some time living on the streets until things began to change for me. I married again, met my Messiah, and gave up the vices that were slowly killing me.” (Phil Quinton)
“My love of writing had to come from my love of reading. Even when I was struggling, I read constantly….John Steinbeck is perhaps my favorite… with the physical inconveniences I must deal with, writing seemed a good way to distract my mind and focus on something else, something more positive and fun. My first book was published in 2007, Blind Mercy. It was just about some of the events that happened during my life…It was helpful to confront those things as it helped me mentally as well as even physically. I used faith to help me through it.” (Phil Quinton)
Phil self-describes the book’s genre as ‘Christian Fiction.’ “It doesn’t preach any denominational rhetoric, but I do use the Bible as a reference. It speaks to the spiritual forces that strive with or against humanity… the adversary, Lucifer, wants to destroy the world by having mankind do it. I identify political agendas of all kinds, as well as different rogue nations, as religious zealotry bent on their own destructive zeal and demonstrate how, in all of this, the demonic forces cause hate and destruction to spread. (Phil Quinton)
“My main character is the ‘Watchman.’ The story takes place about 150 years in the future in a world that had been devastated by a nuclear war. The Watchman discovers the National Archive Building. In it, he finds a diary written by someone who had hidden in the building during the holocaust. He kept a detailed journal of what led up to the bombing. The Watchman found the journal writer’s remains along with his diaries. That is where the second book comes from: The Great Destruction-A New Beginning. I’ve gotten to know the characters so well that all I do is just listen to what they are saying and write it down. And it is from what I learned from The Watchman about the story of the destruction that leads to the third book of the trilogy, The Journey Home.” (Phil Quinton)
I ordered Phil’s book, hoping to read it in a ten-hour Hawaii (Big Island) round trip, but the book arrived after we left. Thus far, I have read only the prologue, which was absolutely gripping. With over 500 pages, ten hours of flying time won’t be sufficient.
“I have two great loves in my life: my Redeemer, first, and my wife. We are now retired and live in Idaho. I am a veteran, having served in the Seabees as an equipment operator. My wife (Jeanette) and I are living a full life, filled with our children, who live in the area, and our grandchildren. Our Father has blessed us with nine grandchildren, and that to us is love beyond measure. Being challenged with physical issues, most from side effects from Agent Orange, I choose to focus on my Lord, my wife, my writing, and his blessings every day that I have left.” (Back book cover)
I did not know Phil at Burroughs. I think I now know him well. A difficult life well-lived. As Veteran’s Day approaches, I thank Phil for his service and lifelong sacrifice and applaud his steadfast resilience.
Kay Walker Furnish, keeper of all things related to the Burroughs class of 1966, suggested this profile.