Corporal George Miller Curtis
U. S. Army Air Forces
Ser. # 6959056

July 19, 1919 - June 19, 1942
Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines

Gold Star Mother
Ethlyn Verle Miller Curtis

 


Palacios High School Memorial
 
 


Matagorda County's First World War II Casualty


Corporal George Miller Curtis, U.S. Army Air Forces [July 19, 1919 – June 19, 1942] was born to George Wright Curtis [November 25, 1889 – March 18, 1987] and Ethlyn Verle (Miller) Curtis [October 21, 1891 – May 4, 1971] at Palacios, Matagorda County, Texas.  As a small boy he was baptized into the Methodist Church.  He graduated from Palacios high School with the Class of 1937, and was a strong football player; was in the Boy Scouts, and was just shy of making Eagle Scout.  Attended Texas College of Arts and Industries at Kingsville, and while there became a member of the Texas National Guard.  He joined the regular Army in infantry in 1939, and later was transferred to the Army Air Forces, receiving training at Barksdale Field, LA and Savannah, GA.  He was united in marriage to Miss Avis Gregory of Palacios on April 14, 1941. He sailed with the 27th Bomb Group for Manila, Philippine Islands in October 1941 where he was attached to the Far East Air Force (FEAF), which was the predecessor of the 5th Air Force.  Initially FEAF also included aircraft and personnel of the Philippine Army Air Corps, and it was largely destroyed during the Battle of the Philippines (1941-42).
The planes for the 27th Bomb Group were enroute to the Philippines and had stopped at Fiji Islands - they were ordered to go to Australia - so the 27th never received their aircraft.  Efforts were made to evacuate their pilots and navigators to Australia by way of Mindano, and Headquarters FEAF accompanied those who were able to get out.  The men who remained were given three days of infantry training, and used as ad hoc infantry units* in the defense of the Bataan Peninsula between January 7th and April 9th, 1942.  On January 7th, the Provisional Air Corps Regiment was formed by combining elements of the different Air Corps units into a cohesive infantry unit consisting of two battalions.  George’s unit, the 27th Bombardment Group (light), which had been at Clark Field, was mustered into the 2nd battalion.  In its’ brief life, the Provisional Air Corps Regiment served on front line duty fighting the Japanese from inception to surrender.  The bulk of the weary, starving and emaciated American and Filipino survivors, after General E. P. King, Jr. surrendered to the Japanese on the morning of April 9th, perished individually during the ensuing three and a half years of Japanese captivity.  Of the 880 +/- airmen of the 27th who were taken prisoner, less than half survived captivity.  George survived the brutal 60 mile Bataan Death March, he survived being crammed into a small boxcar with many other men (similar to the Jews going to the concentration camps in Europe), and he survived his stay at Camp O’Donnell under very hard and inhuman conditions.  The prisoners would line up once a day for water; men were weak and dying from dysentery and beriberi and they were being horrifically treated.  He was finally incarcerated at Cabanatuan Prison Camp (concentration camp). It was there on June 19, 1942 he died and was buried in a temporary cemetery near the prison.  Eventually, many of the prisoners who had not died,  would be transferred to camps outside of the Philippines.  After his parents declined to have his remains repatriated to the United States c. 1948/49 he was re-interred at the Manila American Cemetery at Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines, Plot L; Row 10; Grave 21.  At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Avis; parents George and Ethlyn; his sister Dorothy Lea and brothers: Marvin Lloyd and Noel Dewees.

* Military basic training today introduces all incoming personnel to the fundamental concepts of infantry procedures.
 


MEMORIAL SERVICES HELD SUN. FOR
PALACIOS SOLDIER WHO DIED IN PHILIPPINES

George M. Curtis

A Memorial Service for George M. Curtis, son of Mr. and Mrs. George W. Curtis, 3rd street, Palacios, was held in the Methodist Church on last Sunday afternoon at 3:00 o'clock. He was serving in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. There was a representative attendance, which included Mrs. George M. Curtis, her mother Mrs. Gregory, one brother, three sisters from Edinburg, all the near relatives of the deceased, and many other friends of the family. The meeting was opened by the reading of scripture by Rev. Laurence Greenhaw, pastor of the Church. A Hymn was sung, and Rev. L. W. Crouch, pastor of the Baptist Church led in prayer. At the request of the relatives, Rev. J. E. Mack, former pastor of the Methodist Church here, addressed the congregation. Among other verses from the Gospel of St. John he chose the following: "Now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world; and I come to Thee. As I am in the world, so are ye in the world. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was about to go out into the Garden of Gethsemane and to the cross, and to give His life for the sins of the whole world. The young men in this war have given their lives, and are giving them for freedom--freedom of religion, of assemblages, and of the press. He spoke of our American inheritance, and the cost, through the centuries, of the priceless blessings of civilization. The members of the early Church as recorded in the book of Acts, were willing, in the very presence of threatening power, to forfeit their lives for freedom to testify, to the power of God, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (Acts 4, vv. 19-20). It has always been so. This tragic war is a struggle for an open Bible and the soul of man, not for his mind and body only, but for his soul. When we think of democracy, we are accustomed to think only of political democracy, but the word in American history has meant far more than this; it has meant the love of home, the establishment of high schools and colleges, the love of learning and of culture, the love of books, poetry, and music. For these mercies and blessings and many others, men have been willing to die. And so George M. Curtis had given his life on the altar of sacrifice. Rev. Mack spoke with much feeling of his knowledge of George M. Curtis and his young wife, while he was pastor in Palacios, and those who are left behind to carry on.

Rev. George Gillespie read the following: George Miller Curtis was born in Palacios, Texas, July 19th 1919, and gave his life June 19, 1942, in the Philippines. He graduated from Palacios High School with the class of 1937. He took a deep interest in football, and played on the high school team. He was also deeply interested in Boy Scout work and was within a few merits of being an Eagle Scout. He attended the Texas College of Arts and Industries at Kingsville, and while there became a member of the Texas National Guard. He joined the regular army, infantry, in 1939, and later was transferred to the Army Air Corps. He received his Air Corps training at Barksdale Field, La., and Savannah Air Base, Savannah, Ga. He was united in marriage to Avis Gregory in Palacios on April 14th, 1941. He sailed from the States, Oct. 1941, with the 27th Bomb Group, for Manila, Philippine Islands. He was with General MacArthur's men on Bataan, of whom General McArthur said when leaving: "I shall never forget the vision of those grim, gaunt, valiant men, I shall return." He returned on October 20th, 1944. The last word received from George M. Curtis was a radiogram from Cebu March 14, 1942. He had, however, written a letter in February, 1942, which was not received until August.

As a small boy he was baptized and became a member of the Methodist Church.

The following is from the U. S. Government to his wife and relatives:―

Citation of Honor          United States Army Air Forces

Corporal George M. Curtis

who gave his life in the performance of his duty July 1, 1944.

He lived to bear his country's arms. He died to save its honor. He was a soldier...and he knew a soldier's duty. His sacrifice will help to keep aglow the flaming torch that lights our lives...that millions yet unborn may know the priceless joy of liberty. And we who pay him homage and revere his memory, in solemn pride rededicate ourselves to a complete fulfillment of the task for which he so gallantly has placed his own life upon the altar of man's freedom.

                                                H. H. Arnold, Commanding General, Army Air Forces

Rev. George F. Gillespie, who had known George M. Curtis since he was a child spoke of his friendship with him throughout all the years. Like many boys in their late teens, he was weak and uncertain about his future, and his destiny. When he joined the army he seemed to come into the fullness of his manhood. The various exercises in the gymnasium, the discipline, the hardship, the mental training through obedience and in other ways, gave him the qualities that he needed. He was happy in his new home life, and told the speaker in his last conversation with him that he intended to make the army his career. St. Paul said in his last letter to his young friend Timothy, the last letter he ever wrote: "Take thou my share of hardship along with me as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." George M. Curtis took his share of hardship on Bataan and Corregidor, and gave his life for God, for country, for freedom, and for us. He has entered into a richer and fuller life in the many mansioned home.

Rev. Gillespie used as his Scripture passages the 73rd Psalm and St. John ch. 12, v 24. He told the story of the writer of the Psalm as given in its verses and pleaded with his hearers to keep at all costs their own personal faith. He mentioned Phillips Brooks' sermon on this Psalm, taken from vv 16 and 17, with the theme: "The sanctuary of God, the place of solved problems." He asked his hearers to memorize vv 23-26 which he called on of the noblest and loftiest and holiest utterances in all of the Old Testament. The speaker also drew some lessons from St. John ch. 12, v 24--"Verily, verily, I say unto you. Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit." He said that during all his life his own favorite foreign missionary had always been Henry Martyn, who died at the early age of 31 in the Arabian desert--with no one near him but a native attendant--not a single intimate friend to smooth his dying pillow. He was a brilliant scholar, with a weak body, and his life had been beset by keen sorrow, and trials, and sufferings. It has been said that the story of his life has sent more men and women to the foreign field than any other missionary biography that was ever written. So that age hasn’t much to do with 'that most precious thing in life'--influence. And so with George M. Curtis, and all these other young men from our district--they will live forever in the memory of their friends. The speaker closed by reading a beautiful little poem written by a woman in England during the first World War. It describes young men leaving college to go to the war. The last verse is;
 

"God rest you, happy gentlemen

Who laid your good lives down,

Who took the khaki and the gun,

Instead of cap and gown,

God send you to a fairer clime

Than even Oxford town."

The meeting closed with a hymn and a benediction.

Palacios Beacon, Thursday, June 7, 1945
 


Ethlyn Verle Curtis

Mrs. Ethlyn Verle Curtis, a Palacios resident for 62 years, passed away at 8:05 Tuesday evening May 4 at Wagner General Hospital where she had been confined for many months.

A daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. M. M. Miller she was born October 21, 1891, in Barton, North Dakota. Until a few years ago she assisted her husband, George Wright Curtis, in operating their grocery store. She was a member of the Palacios Chapter 125 Order of the Eastern Star, the First United Methodist Church and was an honorary member of the Wednesday Club.

She was preceded in death by a son, George M. who was killed in World War II in the Philippines.

Funeral services were held at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, May 6, at the First United Methodist Church with the Rev. T. Irving King, Jr. and Rev. Charles Simpson officiating. Interment was in the Palacios Cemetery.

She is survived by her husband, one daughter, Mrs. Dorothy Pease of San Antonio; two sons, Marvin and Noel "Potsy" of Palacios; one brother, James Miller of Houston, and five grandchildren.

Palacios Beacon, May 12, 1971
 


CURTIS

Funeral services for George Wright Curtis, 97, of Palacios will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church of Palacios with the Rev. Doug Blanton officiating. Burial will be in Palacios Cemetery.

Mr. Curtis was born Nov. 25, 1889, in Sabina, Ohio, to Harrison and Alpha R. Wright Curtis and died March 18, 1987, at Leisure Lodge Nursing Home in Palacios.

A resident of Palacios since 1910, he was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Palacios.

Survivors include a daughter, Dorothy Lee Pease of San Antonio; a son Marvin L. Curtis of Palacios; seven grandchildren; and three great grandchildren.

Pallbearers include Sonny Brhlik, Fred Huitt, Jimmie Smith, Ted Bates, Jr., Woody Wilson and Sammy Davidson.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Ethlyn Verle Curtis, and two sons, George Miller Curtis and Noel Potsy Curtis.

Arrangements are with Taylor Brothers Funeral Home Palacios,

The Daily Tribune, March 19/20, 1987
 


A PRETTY HOME WEDDING

Curtis – Miller

The home of Mr. and Mrs. M. M. Miller, on Morton Avenue, was the scene of a most beautiful home wedding Sunday morning at 8 o’clock, when their eldest daughter, Miss Evelyn Verle, was united to marriage to Mr. Geo. W. Curtis, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Curtis, all residents of Palacios. At the hour set the young couple unattended, marched down the stairs to the parlor to the strains of Wagner’s Bridal Chorus from “Lohengrin,” played on the piano by Mrs. R. G. Palmer, and took their place under a white bell suspended in a prettily decorated nook in the southwest corner of the room, where Rev. Bristor, pastor of the Christian church, performed the beautiful ring ceremony in a most impressive manner, and which was witnessed by the parents of both the bride and bridegroom, and Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Nash, grandparents of the bride, Miss Dell Miller and Mr. Glen Miller, her sister and brother, and Messrs. and Mesdames A. J. Tatum, T. L. Huffman, R. G. Palmer, John Bentler, D. L. Stump, Mrs. J. P. Green, Mrs. P. F. Arnold and daughter Miss Lura, Mr. O. C. Arnold and Mr. Raymond Tatum. Immediately after the ceremony the bridal party and guests were seated at a sumptuously laden table, and partook of a most inviting and bountiful wedding breakfast.

The bride, always most charming, was particularly lovely in a beautiful costume of white crepe du chein, carrying a boquet of white roses and evergreen, the groom appearing in the conventional black. The parlor and dining room were beautifully decorated with white roses and evergreen.

At noon Mr. and Mrs. Curtis were taken to Blessing by auto where they boarded the Brownsville train for Houston and Galveston on a short honeymoon expecting to return that night or today. The announcement cards say they will be home after Dec. 1st, by which time the elegant double home being built by the groom and his father on Pavilion street, will be completed.

The splendid young couple are among the best known and most popular young people of the city, and further introduction by the Beacon would be unnecessary. They are well-known to all our people, and it is a pleasure to say that all who know them are their friends and admirers, and who join with us in wishing Mr. and Mrs. Curtis unbounded joy, long life and prosperity, and all other good things essential to the making of their married life entirely  happy and complete.

Palacios Beacon, November 8, 1912
 

Special thanks to Federico Baldassarre of the Battling Bastards of Bataan who supplied information on the service of Corporal Curtis.

 

Copyright 2006 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

This page was created
Jan. 28, 2006
This page was updated
Jan. 14, 2009
   

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