Bill Curtis served on U.S.S. Frankford in World War II

10:00 am | October 29, 2013

On June 27, 1944, William Erving Curtis — or Bill Curtis Jr. — officially joined the U.S. Navy.Photo by Brandon Hicks

The timing of his service meant he came in to replace the fallen Navy soldiers on U.S.S. Frankford, which was a destroyer involved in the Invasion of Normandy initiated on June 6, 1944.

“The 26th was my birthday,” said Curtis, who is 87 years old. “In 1944, everybody as soon as they were 18 and if they were in good health, they were in the service. I knew that was coming, so I beat the draft by a day.”

Curtis said he wanted to join the Navy instead of the Army. He said he was inspired by his sister to join the Navy.

“I had a sister, Mary Catherine Llewellyn, who was two years older than me, already in the Navy,” he said.

After a quick round of training, Curtis was drafted out of New York at Pier 92 for his first assignment.

WALL-USS Frankford-1029“I was drafted to go over to north New Jersey for 15 days to stand in as a security guard when they put radar on ships they were building,” Curtis said.

“Then I came back to Pier 92 and I was drafted out of there to go on the Frankford. It had just returned from the Invasion of Normandy.” Curtis is fond of the memory when he was able to meet the men who fought in the Invasion.

“I met them as they came back,” Curtis said. “They accepted me and were a fine bunch of people. There were probably 20 of us that went aboard to replace those who had transferred or those who were lost at sea.

“They made quite a name for themselves,” Curtis said. “They were all heroes.”

Curtis, too, was given the chance to become a hero aboard the Frankford.

His first mission aboard the Frankford took him to the North Atlantic, where the ship was a part of a “hunter/killer squadron,” Curtis said.

“We hunted German submarines on the Northern shipping lanes,” Curtis said. “There were nine destroyers in a squadron, but three of us stayed together all the time.”

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