My Service

 

When it came time to decide which branch of the armed forces to join, Tony looked to his film hero Cary Grant and his role as a sailor in Destination Tokyo. At the age of 17, Tony forged his mother's signature so that he could enlist in 1943.

He served as Signalman 3rd Class, SSU with Submarine Relief Crew 202 onboard the USS Proteus. His squadron, Submarine Squadron 20, was commissioned on March 1, 1944 and was assigned to the USS Proteus for the duration of the war. They performed complete refit and voyage repairs to 26 submarines. No submarine from from Squadron 20 - nor any submarine that was retrofit by Proteus - was ever lost to the enemy. Proteus' Squadron 20 submarines fired some 350 torpedoes, scoring 132 hits-resulting in the sinking of 56 enemy ships - and damaging 9 others.

Tony was awarded the WWII Victory Medal, the Asia-Pacific Medal and the American Area Medal.

Like his screen hero Cary Grant in Destination Tokyo, Tony was in Tokyo...on Sept 2, 1945 during the surrender of the Japanese. He was onboard the USS Proteus in Tokyo Bay and watched the historic event unfold.

Going full circle, one of Tony's proudest onscreen performances was playing Lt. Nick Holden in Operation Petticoat - opposite his boyhood hero, Cary Grant.

Tony was appreciative of the Navy - he said they were like "my mother - They fed me and clothed me. They fixed my teeth and gave me a job." He was proud of his service and was an active supporter of the Navy throughout his life. A mural he painted is on display at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu. He participated in the dedication of the Navy Memorial in Washington D.C.  In 1994 he was awarded the coveted Lone Sailor Award and in 1998 was honored with a set of "silver dolphins". These were bestowed, in part, for his constant and enthusiastic support of the Navy.

At his funeral on Oct 4, 2010, Tony was buried with full military honors.

 

Link: http://oralhistoryproject.homestead.com/tcurtis_navy.html