Curtin, Robert Edward, Capt

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 Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary MOS
7598-Basic Fixed-Wing Pilot
Last MOSGroup
Pilots/Naval Flight Officers
Primary Unit
1942-Present, 7598, Missing In Action
Service Years
1938 - 1942
Official/Unofficial USMC Certificates
Golden Dragon Certificate



 Current Photo 
 Personal Details 

543 kb

State of Birth
New Jersey
New Jersey
Year of Birth
Not Specified
This Military Service Page was created/owned by CWO3 Manuel (Manny) Vizinho to remember Marine Capt Robert Edward Curtin.

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 Military Association Memberships
World War II Fallen
  1942, World War II Fallen

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Birth and Early Life:
Robert E. Curtin was a native of East Orange, New Jersey.
Enlistment and Boot Camp:
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.
Service Prior to 1941:
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.
Wartime Service:
In 1941, several of Pensacola's younger instructors were joined together and sent to San Diego, where they formed a new squadron, VMF-221. Their first deployment was to the tiny island of Midway; Curtin arrived there shortly after Christmas. In March of 1942, Lieutenant Curtin was one of the men of the squadron picked to form the nucleus of VMF-222 on nearby Eastern Island, however he and the remainder of 222's pilots (save two) were returned to 221 in April. Curtin piloted an F2A-3 Brewster Buffalo (Bureau Number 01520) and led the squadron's Fourth Division. On May 25, 1942, Curtin was promoted to captain.
Date Of Loss:
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 Lieutenant Irwin described how the two of them had met the enemy.
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.
Although Irwin climbed immediately up to 16,500 feet after his run and searched frantically for Curtin, he couldn't identify his division leader before being chased into a dive by a Japanese Zero fighter. Curtin, along with the rest of the First Division, was never seen again.
Next Of Kin:
Wife, Mrs. Robert Curtin of San Diego, California
Status Of Remains:
Lost at sea.
Tablets of the Missing, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
Other Comments:
Navy Cross
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.
Action Date: 4-Jun-42
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 Unit Assignments
MARTD, NAS NewYork, Brooklyn, NYAviation UnitsMarine BarracksMARDET NAS Pensacola
VMF-221Missing In Action
  1938-1938, 7599, MARTD, NAS NewYork, Brooklyn, NY
  1938-1939, 7598, Marine Aviation Detachment (MAD) Pensacola, FL
  1939-1940, 7598, Marine Barracks San Diego, CA
  1940-1940, 7598, MARDET NAS Pensacola
  1941-1942, 7598, VMF-221
  1942-Present, 7598, Missing In Action
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1941 World War II/American Theater
  1942-1942 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Battle of Midway
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