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Capt Robert Edward Curtin
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Birth: unknown
Death: Jun. 5, 1943
Midway Islands, UMI

Robert E. Curtin was a native of East Orange, New Jersey.

After enlisting on May 16, 1938, Curtin was sent to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn for instruction as a Naval Aviation pilot. He passed his elimination training and, with the blessings of his superiors, was sent to Pensacola to learn the trade of a fighter pilot. While there, he met some of the men with whom he would fly in combat, including Herbert Merrill, Marion Carl, and John Alvord. Curtin received his wings and his commission on September 22, 1939.

Curtin and Alvord were both send to San Diego to cut their teeth as active duty pilots with Scouting Squadron Two. In June of 1940, both were sent back to Pensacola, where they served as instructors through the end of the year.

Marine Corps Fighter Squadron VMF-221 was formed in July 1941 at San Diego, California. In December they were transferred temporarily the Ewa Marine Corps Air Station, Hawaii. On Christmas Day, December 25th, 1941, they deaprted Hawaii onboard the USS SARATOGA, CV-3, in 14 F2A-3's Brewster "Buffalos", quite possibly the worst fighter aircraft of World War II, to land on Midway Island. The squadron's placement at Midway was originally planned to be part of the relief force for Wake Island; a relief that never came leaving Wake at the mercy of the Japanese. However, there was no mercy forthcoming.

On March 28th,1942, 8 more Buffalos arrived at Midway and on May 26th, 1942, seven Grumman F4F-3 "Wildcats" were delivered via the USS KITTYHAWK, APV-1. The Wildcat fighters were assigned to the 5th Division of VMF-221.
Curtin led the squadron's Fourth Division.

On May 25, 1942, Curtin was promoted to captain.

Maintenance was an ongoing concern on Midway, and by the morning of June 4, Curtin's division had been reduced to two operable planes his and Second Lieutenant Darrell D. Irwin. The two pilots awoke to reveille at 0300 and were in their planes shortly after 0500, awaiting the order to take off. It came with the air raid siren an hour later, and the shorthanded Fourth Division followed Major Floyd Parks' group into the air. In his report after the battle, Curtin's wingman, Second Lieutenant D. D. Irwin, USMCR, described how the two of them had met the enemy. His statement is as follows:
"The air raid siren sounded about 0600, and Captain R. E. Curtin and I, the two of us being the entire fourth division, took off approximately at 0603. I flew No. 2 position on Capt. Curtin, and together we followed another division of five Brewsters to 14,000′ on heading about 000. About 20 miles out, at 0625, we saw, about 2,000′ below, two divisions of single-engine Japanese bombers in large Vee formation. Each bomber division contained from 7 to 9 planes. The division of Brewsters in front of us made an overhead approach followed by Captain Curtin and myself, after which I never again saw Captain Curtin or any in the first division."

Irwin climbed to 16,500 feet after his run and searched for Curtin, he couldn't identify his division leader before but to no avail. He was forced to abandon his search when he was engaged by a Japanese Zero fighter aircraft.

Curtin, along with the rest of the First Division pilots, were never seen again, probably being downed in dogfights with the Japanese.

Captain Curtin was awarded the Navy Cross for his part in the battle. His citation reads as follows:
"The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Captain Robert Edward Curtin (MCSN: 0-5857), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession while serving as Division Commander and a Pilot in Marine Fighting Squadron TWO HUNDRED TWENTY-ONE (VMF-221), Marine Air Group TWENTY-TWO (MAG-22), Naval Air Station, Midway, during operations of the U.S. Naval and Marine Forces against the invading Japanese Fleet during the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942. Leading his division in a dauntless and aggressive attack against a vastly superior number of Japanese bomber and fighter planes, Captain Curtin aided in disrupting the plans of the enemy and lessening the effectiveness of their attack, thereby contributing materially to the success of our forces. As a result of his courageous and daring tactics and because of the circumstances attendant upon this engagement, there can be little doubt that Captain Curtin gallantly gave up his life in the service of his country. He displayed the characteristics of a find leader and excellent airman, in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

At the time of his death, Captain Curtin's wife was living at 635 G Avenue, Coronado, San Diego, California.

Captain Robert Edward Curtin, Sn# 0-5857, earned the following badges/decorations for his service to the United States Marine Corps prior to and during World War II:
- Gold Navy Pilot's Wings
- Navy Cross Medal
- Purple Heart Medal
- Combat Action Ribbon
- Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon
- American Defense Service Medal
- Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Operations Campaign Medal with one bronze battle star
- World War II Victory Medal

**NOTE** - A large portion of this bio is based on information from the website They have done a fantastic job of researching approximately 3000 US Marines whose bodies were lost in the war. This writer wholeheartedly recommends their site for researchers or families of the missing. - Rick Lawrence, MSgt., USMC/USAFR {RET})
Note: Entered the service from New York.
Honolulu Memorial *
Honolulu County
Hawaii, USA
Plot: Tablets of the Missing
*Cenotaph [?]
Maintained by: Rick Lawrence
Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
Record added: Aug 06, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 56128103
Capt Robert Edward Curtin
Added by: Sherry SH
Capt Robert Edward Curtin
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Karin Green
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.

In honored remembrance of your valiant service and ultimate sacrifice for our great nation and the Allied cause during World War II. May it not have been in vain. Semper Fidelis!
- Rick Lawrence, MSgt., USMC/USAFR (RET)
 Added: Dec. 6, 2013

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