It’s December 21st, 1921. A little boy is born in Moline, Colorado USA. His name is Curtis Leroy Arnold.
Son of mother, Katie May Arnold and father, Luther F. Arnold.
He had three brothers and one sister.
He grew up in Moline , went to Grammar School for 7 years and High School for two more years. After his school period he worked as a farmer for one year until he became 18.
He was at young age called ‘Chick’ by his brothers and friends because he liked the children’s story ‘Chicken Little’. This nickname he shall have during his Army period also. Thats why Curtis was also known as Chick Arnold in the Army.
It would be the start of his military career and still unknown what the future would bring.
When curtis became 18 years old he went to Ft. Sam Houston, Texas and enlisted for the US Army on on January 15 1940 for three years at the 1st Cavalry Division,Ft. Bliss Texas.
He became a member of troop ‘A’ 8th Cavalry Regiment.His Army Service Number was 06957828.
On July 6th,1942 Curtis got the confidential order,from the Third Army Headquarters by command of Lieutenant General Kreuger, to transfer to the new Commando Demonstration Platoon, 75th Composite Infantry Training Battalion, Camp Edwards Massechusetts.
The 75th Composite Infantry Training Battalion was activated on 15 June 1942 by the Commanding General, VI Army Corps upon orders of Army Ground Forces and was to serve as the demonstration unit.
The 75th Composite Infantry Training Battalion consisted of one officer and forty-five enlisted men (included Curtis L. Arnold) and was used exclusively for demonstrations and operations connected with commando/ranger training.
Till December 1942 Curtis was a member of the Commando Demonstration Platoon, 75th Composite Infantry Training Battalion in the rank of a technical Instructor. He trained various soldiers for the, then unknown upcoming overseas war combat.
In December 1942, Curtis took up a new challenge in his military career as he requested to start at the Parachute School Airborne Command.
The request was granted and he started on January 1st,1943 at the Parachute School Airborne Command, ft.benning.
He got his Paratrooper Jumpwing on February 6th, 1943 and became a member of the 82nd Airborne Division,505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion E-Company on March 8th, 1943.
The overseas war duty began for Curtis on April 17th, 1943. Curtis was transferred to New York Port of Embarkation, Camp Shanks and arrived in Casablanca, North Africa on May 10th, 1943.
After two months of training in the desert, World war II starts for Curtis in July.
He made his first combat jump on July 10th, 1943 at Sicily for Operation Husky.
After heavy combat in the Sicily area the 505th PIR left Sicily losing 424 soldiers, killed in action,died of sustained wounds or missing in action.
Curtis left Sicily on August 20th, 1943.
He was ordered back to Tunisia to get some rest and was prepared for his second combat jump of WWII.
On the early morning of September 15th,1943, Curtis jumped together with about 2.100 combat hardened paratroopers on the tenuous Salerno beachhead near Paestum, Italy for Operation Husky Fase II.
This first day in Italy Curtis was slightly wounded in action. He recieved his first Purple Heart medal for this injury.
Two weeks later the 505th PIR had penetrated the outskirts of Naples thereby capturing the first major european city for the Allies.
Curtis departured from Italy on November 18th, 1943 and arrived in Northern Ireland on December 9th, 1943, the day Colonel James Gavin was promoted to Brigadier General and assumed the duties of the assistent Division Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division.
The day of days came on June 6th, 1944. Curtis was added to mission Boston. A parachute combat assault at night by the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division on June 6th, 1944. This was part of the American airborne landings in Normandy during World War II.
6,420 paratroopers jumped from nearly 370 C-47 Skytrain troop carrier aircraft into an intended objective area of roughly 10 square miles (26 km2) located on either side of the Merderet river on the Cotentin Peninsula of France, five hours ahead of the D-Day landings.
Curtis jumped with his regiment in the early morning of June 6th, 1944 on the dropzone (DZ) “O” next to St.Mere Eglise from 0151 Hours till 0202 hours. Most of the troops landed on or near the dropzone, but a few were widely dispersed over the countryside.
After a proper landing at the dropzone Curtis made contact with fellow 505th PIR members Rudy Oplinger, Irwin ‘Turk’ Seeyle and Maryland Jay Golden. The last one broke his left leg in the jump. The other men carried him to safety, giving first aid and then returned to there main objective, holding the town of St.Mere Eglise on the north side together with the 3rd battalion.
On June 8th, 1944 Curtis was wounded in action. During combat he was hit by a piece of schrapnel in his neck. The piece of Schrapnel shall be in his neck for the rest of his live. He got his Purple Heart Oakleaf Cluster for this second injury.
After the succesful operation Overlord, Curtis was back in to service after recovered from his wounds on July 8th, 1942 and left france on July 12th and got back to England were he arrived on July 14th, 1944. When he came back in his basecamp in England many bunks were empty. A total of 1272 men were killed in action,died of sustained wounds or were missing in action during the Normandy Campaign.
Curtis survived and was now only two months away for the 4th (!) and last combat jump he would make during the war.
On Sunday September 17th, 1944 Operation Market Garden started. Curtis and his fellow paratroopers of the 505th PIR jumped on dropzone N, near the town of Groesbeek Holland.
Operation Market Garden was an Allied Military Operation fought in Holland from 17 to 25 September 1944. Its objective was to create a 64 miles salient into German territory with a bridgeheead over the Rhine river, creating an Allied invasion route into northern Germany.
The operation was achieved by two sub-operations: Seizing nine bridges with combined US and British Airborne Forces (Market) followed by land forces swiftly following over the bridges (Garden).
Curtis’s and the entire 505th PIR’s objective in the first stage was to defend drop zone N (Groesbeek Heights and Mook) and they were able to do that successfully.
A few days later on Wednesday September 20th, 1944 Curtis and his colleques, supported by the tanks of the Grenadier Guards,were ordered to launch an attack on the southern ramp of the Nijmegen road bridge. After heavy and fiers fighting with German Waffen-SS and Fallschirmjäger troops, they were successful. At 6.30 pm that day the first two tanks of the Grenadier Guards were able to cross the Nijmegen bridge and linked up with troops of the 504th PIR on the other side of the bridge.
For the coming weeks Curtis and his colleques had to defend the Groesbeek Heights and the area between Erlekom and the Wyler Meer.
There mission in Holland was completed but unfortunatly resulted in 777 men of the 82nd Airborne Division killed in action,died of sustained wounds or missing in action.
On November 13th, 1944 the 505th PIR were ordered to get off the frontline and were departed to France were Curtis arrived on November 16th in his new basecamp at Sissone France.
On December 16th, 1944 the germans launched their last offensive on the western front in the Belgian Ardennes.
On the evening of december 17th, General James M.Gavin was informed about the critical situation during a dinner. After a meeting with the 1st Infantry Division the decision was made to send the 82nd (and 101st) Airborne Division to Belgium.
Curtis and his fellow paratroopers left France the next day (December 18th) and arrived at Werbomont Belgium late in the evening.
There objective was to control the region around Werbomont and they had some fierce fighting around Trois-Ponts with Kampfgruppe Peiper’s SS men during in winter conditions.
After the German attacks in the Ardennes the 82nd Airborne Division counter attacked and drove the Germans towards the Siegfriend Line.
On February 1st, Curtis and his colleques entered Germany were they made a river crossing at the Rhine and Elbe river in the last weeks of the war.
When the war ended, on May 8th, 1945, the 82nd Airborne division had been in nine countries, fought for 422 days and had participated in both parachute/glider and amphibious landings.They had made 4 combat jumps.
More then 60.000 men had joined the 82nd Airborne Division and a total of 3.489 members of the 82nd Airborne Division had been killed in action,died of sustained wounds or were missing in action.
Curtis Left the ETO (Europian Theather of Operations) on June 2nd, 1945 from Le Havre France. Back to the USA were he arrived on June 12th, 1945.
He went back to were his military career started, Ft. Bliss Texas. From there he left the US Army on June 20th, 1945.
During his military career Private first Class Curtis Leroy Arnold was awarded with:
-3 Bronze Stars;
-2 Purple Hearts (PH with oakleaf Cluster);
-Good Conduct Medal;
-Distiguished Unit Citation;
-Combat Infantry Badge;
-European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal;
-World War 2 Victory Medal;
-American Defense Service Medal;
-World War II Honorable Discharge “Ruptured Duck” Lapel Pin.
After the war Curtis married his beloved Bonnie on August 23rd,1945.They had four children.
He worked in the oilfield several years with Humble Oil & Refining Co. In Crane,McCamey and Iraan. Later moving to Austin Texas, going again to school and became a barber/hair stylist. He started playing golf and that was his love. Also dancing was on of his favorit hobbies.
He retired on Medina Lake, Bandera where he could be in the outdoors and play lots of golf.
Due to what is nowadays called PTSD, his postwar life wasn’t always easy for Curtis and his family but they always supported him for his effort he made for his country. They are proud that he helped liberating Europe during World War II.
Curtis went after his Military Career to many 82nd Airborne reunions and followed the efforts of the 82nd Airborne Division for the rest of his life. Curtis passed away on July 15th, 2008 at the age of 86 and rests on the Langford Cementry, Evant Texas USA.
Exactly 100 years after Curtis was born, we thank him for the huge effort he made during the war by means of this webpage.
Say their names, Remember their service and honor their lives.
We are still looking for items, stories and pictures of Curtis ‘Chick’ Leroy Arnold 505th PIR 2-E & his fellow Paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division.
If you have more information or historical items from Curtis or his colleagues from the 82nd, please contact us.
Maybe we can add a remembrance page for them too!