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Curtis W. Howard

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Curtis W. Howard
Curtis W. Howard.jpg
Howard six days before his death
Birth nameCurtis William Howard
Born(1917-08-31)August 31, 1917
Guam, Mariana Islands
DiedJune 4, 1942(1942-06-04) (aged 24)
Pacific Ocean, near Midway
Allegiance United States
Branch United States Navy
Service years1938–1942
RankLieutenant, junior grade
AwardsNavy Cross

Curtis William Howard (August 31, 1917 – June 4, 1942) was a United States Navy officer who received the Navy Cross posthumously for his actions during the Battle of Midway during World War II.

Naval career[edit]

Curtis William Howard was born to Captain and Mrs. Jasper V. Howard (Medical Corps), USN, on Guam on 31 August 1917. He was appointed a midshipman from the State of California on 4 June 1934 and attended the United States Naval Academy. While there, he boxed, earning him the nickname "Punchy", and contemporaries considered him "possessed of a good sense of humor, exceptional perscipacity, and an able brain,"[1] who "promises to become an apt officer".[1] Graduating with the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1938, Howard received his commission as an ensign on 2 June 1938.[1]

Howard reported to the heavy cruiser USS Pensacola (CA-24) on 30 June 1938, and served aboard her until 11 September 1939. On 19 September 1939, he reported to the destroyer USS Greer (DD-145) at the Philadelphia Navy Yard at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Greer was undergoing preparations for recommissioning on 4 October 1939 to become a part of the Neutrality Patrol ordered soon after World War II began in Europe.[1]

Detached from Greer on 5 July 1940, Ensign Howard reported to Naval Air Station Pensacola at Pensacola, Florida, on 29 July 1940 to commence flight "instruction in heavier-than-air craft."[1] He continued "duty involving flying under instruction"[1] there, and, ultimately, was designated a naval aviator on 23 January 1941. Detached from Naval Air Station Pensacola on 7 February 1941, he then served at Naval Air Station Miami at Miami, Florida, from 25 March 1941 to 7 April 1941, after which he reported to Torpedo Squadron 3, assigned to the air group of the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3), on 7 April 1941. On 8 October 1941, he was promoted to lieutenant, junior grade, to rank from 8 June 1941.[1]

The United States entered World War II on 7 December 1941. After an Imperial Japanese Navy submarine torpedoed Saratoga on 11 January 1942 and Saratoga's subsequent departure for repairs at Puget Sound Navy Yard at Bremerton, Washington, Torpedo Squadron 3 was based ashore, first at Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, standing alert duty for defense of the island of Oahu, then at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, whence the squadron trained and continued to stand alerts.[1]

On 30 May 1942, assigned to the air group of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5), replacing Torpedo Squadron 5 aboard that carrier, Torpedo Squadron 3 flew on board as Yorktown departed Pearl Harbor to participate in what would become known as the Battle of Midway. During that battle, on 4 June 1942, Yorktown launched Torpedo Squadron 3 and Bombing Squadron 3, covered by fighters from Fighting Squadron 3, to attack the Japanese aircraft carrier force in concert with a strike from aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (CV-6) and USS Hornet (CV-8). Circumstances, however, dictated that only the Yorktown Air Group attacked as a unit, with Torpedo Squadron 3 following Torpedo Squadron 8 and Torpedo Squadron 6 as the last of the three torpedo squadrons to execute their brave low-level attacks. Japanese Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 00 carrier fighters, however, overwhelmed the six-plane Fighting Squadron 3 covering element, and, in concert with heavy antiaircraft fire from the Japanese aircraft carriers and their screening ships, shot down ten of the twelve Torpedo Squadron 3 Douglas TBD-1 Devastator torpedo bombers. Howard, piloting one of the Devastators, and his radio gunner, Aviation Radioman 3rd Class Charles L. Moore, perished in the attack.[1]


Howard was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously for his "self-sacrificing gallantry and fortitude...in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service..."[1]


The U.S. Navy destroyer escort USS Curtis W. Howard (DE-752), launched in 1944 but never completed, was named for Lieutenant, junior grade, Howard.[1]

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  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 "USS Curtis Howard". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History and Heritage Command.


  • This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

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