30th Infantry Division
“Old Hickory” Patch
119th Infantry Regiment
Distinctive Unit Insignia
CURTISS A. (CURT)
Patriot, Chapter 1919
Army, WWII, Europe
Martell was born in Minot, North Dakota
During his early childhood his mother moved with him
to Royal Oak, Michigan where they lived with her parents. He attended school
there until, when he was nine years old, they moved into the city of
Curtiss graduated from Cass Technical School in
Detroit and then went to Michigan State for one year.
He studied architecture and took a job with an
architectural firm while continuing his education by taking correspondence
courses. He was disappointed with the low pay and decided to switch to the
automotive industry instead, so he found employment with General Motors
truck division in Pontiac.
Although he was switching from architecture to
mechanical engineering work, he quickly moved up to assistant leader and
then supervisor of his engineering drawings team. He was doing well, but
meanwhile there were bigger things going on in the world that changed his
WWII started and he knew that would soon be in it.
He attended Missionary Church in Detroit where
he met a girl that sang in the choir, Miss Lillian Lantz.
They were both nineteen when they married,
Christmas Day 1942, a few weeks before Curt entered military service.
He was inducted into the Army
January 30, 1943 and entered active duty at Camp Campbell near Battle Creek,
From there, he was sent to Fort Jackson, South
Carolina and assigned to the 26th Infantry Division, the “Yankee
The division soon moved to Camp Gordon at
Augusta, Georgia and after weeks of training there it moved again, to Camp
Curtiss was part of a levy of men that were
reassigned to the 30th Infantry Division, “Old Hickory,” to
complete that division’s preparation for overseas movement.
He was further assigned to Company
C, 1st Battalion, 119th Infantry Regiment. Soon after his arrival the 30th
Division moved to Camp Miles Standish, Massachusetts, embarked onto liberty
ships and sailed for England on February 12, 1944.
Eleven days later they arrived at Liverpool and
moved into camps to continue training and await the coming invasion. They
did not have long to wait, D-Day in Normandy came less than four months
later, but during that time Curt remembers his unit being visited by the
famous British leader, General Bernard Montgomery.
He also recalls the kindness shown to him when
invited to dinner with the family of a young local banker.
They generously shared what food they had
during that time of strictly rationed food for the civilians.
News of the Normandy invasion was
released and only a couple of days after that Curt’s unit moved to South
Hampton, boarded ship and crossed over the channel.
The 119th Infantry landed on Omaha Beach on
June 10th (D-Day + 4), moved to contact from that still small beach head and
quickly came up against German resistance after advancing barely a mile and
a half inland.
From that time until the end of the war in
Europe ten months later the 30th Division was in near continuous contact
with the enemy, having had only brief rest periods out of action, and they
lost many men.
Except for two weeks hospitalization the second
time he was wounded, Curt was with Company C throughout the Normandy,
Northern France, Ardennes, and Central Europe Campaigns.
Today he says,
the extreme left flank of First Army, under command of General Omar Bradley.
Our left flank was next to the right
flank of the British troops that were fighting in the north of the
We fought our way out of France into
the south of the Netherlands and finally managed to penetrate the Siegfried
Line into Germany.
At that time, I was the only soldier
left from the original “C” Company of the 119th Infantry that had started
with approximately 200 men.
All had been severely wounded or
killed, and that also included replacements of approximately another 100
Curtiss Martell became the platoon leader of his
Infantry platoon at about the time they had moved out of France and he
stayed in that position for the duration.
The battalion was cited for action in Belgium during the Battle of
the Bulge, having sustained heavy losses while defeating a much larger force
of German armor and infantry in savage fighting 19-21 December 1944.
Later, Staff Sergeant Martell was awarded the Silver Star for his
actions in Germany on March 25, 1945, and he was also the recipient of the
Bronze Star and Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster.
FOR GALLANTRY IN ACTION:
The Silver Star
Date of action:
24 MARCH 1945
Sergeant Curtiss A. Martell, 119th Infantry Regiment, United
States Army is awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in
action on 24 March 1945, in Germany.
The advance of
Sergeant Martell’s company was held up by fire directed on a
railroad underpass by four enemy 88mm guns which were
concealed from view by the railroad embankment. Taking a
squad of men with him, Sergeant Martell crossed the railroad
under heavy machine gun and sniper fire, captured or killed
fifteen of the enemy who were dug in on the other side, and
then entered a house which provided observation of the enemy
gun positions and took twenty more prisoners.
From his position Sergeant Martell signalled
friendly tanks which advanced and neutralized the enemy gun
positions. Entered military service from
JAMES M. LEWIS
Brigadier General – U.S. Army Commanding
the fighting ended in May 1945 the 30th Infantry Division was on the list to
be sent to the Pacific Theatre in preparation for an invasion of Japan.
In planning for that mission, the
company commander offered me a commission to Second Lieutenant. But, having
a wife, and a baby son back home that I had never seen, and having more than
enough points to be sent home for discharge, I respectfully declined.
At the same time, however, I suggested
that promotion higher than Staff Sergeant would be good because I had paid
my dues with months of combat experience as a platoon leader.
The commander was not opposed to the
idea, but, in the closing weeks of the war when it was obvious to everyone
that the end was near, a number of our wounded men suddenly began returning
from hospital and some of them, four in my platoon alone, were senior in
rank to me; with no vacancies his hands were tied. I didn’t get the
S/Sgt Martell was shipped back home in September 1945, discharged on
November 10th, and returned home to Detroit.
He soon found employment and he and Lillian resumed family life.
They had four sons and a daughter, and as their family was growing
they moved from Detroit to Oak Park, and eventually to a home in Royal Oak.
Curtiss voluntarily retired in 1981 when his company was bought
out by another firm and he was unwilling to accept some of the changes that
came with that.
Meanwhile, their daughter and her family were established in Austin,
Texas, and in 1999 Curtiss and Lillian moved to this local area to be near
her in retirement.
This month, PATRIOT BULLETIN proudly salutes Patriot Curtiss A.
I was born and raised in Detroit, but
my family lived on the other side of the city from Curtiss.
We both attended
Missionary Church in Detroit and that’s how we met.
I sang in the church choir
and that caught his attention. We began dating just a few months after
America’s entry in the war, about April 1942.
We spent a lot of time
together from that point on and it was just the two of us, we weren’t
double dating or socializing with other young couples at the church or
Soon, it was nearly time
for Curt to go into the Army.
The war dominated
everything then and those were very anxious times for everyone.
We were one couple among
many, many others who decided to marry before being separated by the
We married on Christmas
just a couple of weeks together, he went into the service that following
he was inducted he was sent to Battle Creek, Michigan and then allowed
to go home for that one last weekend. I went back with him on the train
from Detroit to Battle Creek, we said our good-byes there and then I
took the train back home.
In the Summer of
1943, when Curt was in training at Augusta, Georgia, I went there to
spend as much time with him as would be possible. For the first few days
we were able to stay in quarters at Camp Gordon and then found an
apartment in Augusta. I stayed for about six weeks and returned to
Detroit only after Curt’s training sent him elsewhere.
During that time his mother also came and visited for week.
The first of our
five children was born after Curtiss had been shipped over to Europe.
When I first received notification that he had been wounded I had a
feeling of relief, believing that meant that he would be sent back home
to the United States.
But, then in his first
letter that came after he was wounded he said that he was going back to
be with his men.
The days of worrying and
waiting continued until the war was over.
Curt and Lillian Wedding Photo
Christmas Day 1942
Feb 1943 in the snow in front of their apartment just
before Curtiss left for Ft. Jackson, Sc.
Curt’s Photo To His Mother
Before Going Overseas
Why Curt didn’t volunteer to go to Japan
after the war in Europe had ended
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