|Birth: ||Sep. 26, 1930|
North Carolina, USA
|Death: ||Jun. 10, 1965|
SSG Robert Lee Curlee Jr, Vietnam Veteran, Native of Monroe, North Carolina.
Staff Sergeant Robert Lee Curlee Jr was a casualty of the Vietnam War. As a member of the Army, SSG Curlee served our country until June 10th, 1965 in South Vietnam. He was 34 years old and was married. It was reported that Robert died when his helicopter crashed. His body was not recovered. Robert was born on September 26th, 1930 in Monroe, North Carolina. SSG Curlee is on panel 02E, line 004 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. He served our country for 16 years.
Robert Lee Curlee Jr, was born in Union County on September 26, 1930 to Robert Lee and Lucy Helms Curlee. He grew up in Mineral Springs, North Carolina. His oldest sister, Margie Curlee Wethington Rape remembers him begging their mother to sign for him to join the Army. At age 17, he could not enlist on his own. Margie remembers that all Robert ever wanted to be was a Sergeant in the Army. Robert entered the US Army on June 16, 1948 and was trained as a combat medic. He made the military his career and was very happy with his job choice, according to Margie. He rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant, fulfilling his life long dream and he was assigned to different locations throughout the world during his career with the Army. Staff Sergeant Curlee found himself in the jungles of Southeast Asia fighting the Viet Cong on September 23, 1964. He was serving as a medical adviser to the South Vietnamese soldiers. According to the Army, on May 25, 1965, a Special Forces Detachment landed at Dong Xoai, Vietnam, a village through which a Viet Cong supply lifeline from Cambodia ran. The Special Forces detachment, along with Navy Seabees, built a camp in Dong Xoai. Viet Cong shot mortar rounds into the new camp on a regular basis and soon large formations of Viet Cong started appearing in the area. On June 9, 1965, two Viet Cong regiments overran the camp and only a few soldiers survived. Before South Vietnam relief forces could get to the camp, a team of advisors were sent in from Than Son Nhut, Vietnam. The team of advisors were flown in by helicopter pilot Lieutenant Walter Hall and on board were Sergeant Craig Hagen, gunner; Staff Sergeant Joseph Compa, crew chief; Warrant Officer Donald Saegaert, co-pilot. The advisors were Special Detachment 5891, consisting of Staff Sergeant Robert L. Curlee, medic; Captain Bruce Johnson, advisor; and Sergeant First Class Fred Owens, advisor.
When the helicopter was near the ground, with personnel unloading, it came under heavy Viet Cong mortar fire and gunfire. The helicopter tried to take off however it had been hit, crashing into some parked vehicles nearby, bursting into flames. The Army stated that another circling helicopter pilot immediately made contact with Captain Bruce Johnson, who was alive, and he stated that the helicopter crew and the two advisors with him, one of which was Staff Sergeant Curlee, were dead. Captain Johnson told the pilot not to send anyone in because the situation was very bad and there was heavy fire. The Army told Curlee's wife that a search was conducted of the area between Dong Xoai and Thuan Loi on June 15, 1965 and June 16, 1965. No bodies were found in the helicopter wreckage. Villagers in the area stated that the Viet Cong had carried away the bodies of seven Americans and had buried them. The military sent in a grave's registration team who opened two areas of freshly turned earth and found nine bodies however they were Vietnamese and no trace of the American remains were found. No remains of Staff Sergeant Curlee were ever found however the Army concluded a year later that he was dead and not missing in action. Staff Sergeant Curlee's wife, Faith, a nurse in Minnesota, was notified that her husband was missing in June, 1965 and she was later told in 1966 that her husband had died on June 10, 1965, at age 34. Besides his wife, he left two children, James Robert and Kathy, who were teenagers when he died. Margie stated that the first helicopter that her brother rode in was the one in which he was killed. The Army erected a memorial marker in 1966 at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota for Staff Sergeant Curlee. His wife and children lived in Minnesota while he was in Vietnam. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal posthumously for wounds received while in action in Vietnam.
Staff Sergeant Curlee was the first Union County soldier to die during the Vietnam War. Initially, it was thought that John Edward Hopkins was the first Union County soldier to die in Vietnam on July 2, 1966 however this was because the Army was still carrying Staff Sergeant Curlee as missing in action. Staff Sergeant Curlee was the only son in his family and his two sisters, Margie Rape and Vallie Benton, live in Monroe. His sisters cherish his memory and have many pictures of him. They stated that their family was not able to go to Minnesota when the ceremony placing their brother's memorial marker in the Fort Snelling National Cemetery was held. When the Moving Wall comes to the Indian Trail VFW Post 2423 from October 25, 2007 to October 29, 2007, it will be their first time to pay the proper burial respect to their dear brother. Staff Sergeant Curlee is on panel O2E, line 004 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall. (Excerpt from TWS).
He served as a Combat Medical Staff Sergeant with Advisory 5th ARVN Division, Advisory Team 70, Headquarters, Military Assistance Command Vietnam.
He was awarded The Combat Medical Badge(CMB), The Purple Heart Medal for his combat related wounds, The Vietnam Service Medal, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal and The Good Conduct Medal.
Fort Snelling National Cemetery
Plot: Section MA Site 31 Cenotaph
Maintained by: Tom Reece
Originally Created by: Robert
Record added: Oct 13, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 16165373
Requiescat in pace.|
Added: Jan. 22, 2014
Thank you for your great sacrifice in preserving our country's freedoms. I will honor you in the only way that I can . . . by remembering you always. May you rest in peace.|
Charles A. Lewis
Added: Sep. 6, 2012
They called me "DOC".|
Added: May. 20, 2012
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