Carson City’s Robert Curtis spent a half century in the service of his country, half of that in the military.
He has the recognition and accolades to prove it, something emphasized when he recently donned a pertinent cap and was wrapped in a quilt of valor after an Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C. He was recognized upon his return to Northern Nevada by being singled out as the only veteran there who had served through three major conflicts. He recalls the trip with joy and the recognition upon returning with pride.
“Fantastic; awesome,” he said Monday as recalled the trip earlier in April, adding that everywhere he and other veterans went people called out thanking them for their military service. Upon his return, wearing a cap displaying the names of the three wars and conflicts through which he served, Curtis was given a quilt of valor made by Comstock Quilters from various Nevada chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
Carson City Supervisor Lori Bagwell, one of those DAR quilters, and Curtis’ spouse, Donna, were with him at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport when he returned from the District of Columbia and was recognized by the airport administrator there as the only triple war vet in the group. He served during World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
“In Reno it was crazy,” he said.
Curtis, who earned a doctorate in business administration, was a 14-year-old dropout from school during World War II and, at age 15, joined the Army by using his older brother’s name and birth certificate, according to the Curtis couple. He served overseas, seeing action as a machine gunner, before he was honorably discharged as his brother in March of 1946.
At age 18, he then was drafted by the Army but enlisted with and made his career in the Air Force, retiring as a chief master sergeant. During that period with the Air Force, he obtained two masters degrees. Curtis later earned his doctorate, he said, at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
He spent another quarter century in civilian posts with the federal government, he said, working in human resources. He said he retired as a GS 13, his last post as personnel director with the U.S. mission to the United Nations.
“In other words,” he said, “I’ve got 50 years of government service.”