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Biography of Theodore Roosevelt Curby

Maypearl, Texas

Theodore Roosevelt Curby was the youngest son of eight children born to Dr. John Henry Curby and Ida (Mathews) Curby of Maypearl. Ted was born on Sunday, April 11, 1920. 

Ted attended public school in Maypearl, and graduated Maypearl High School on June 4, 1937. 

After graduating high school, Ted enrolled at Trinity University in Waxahachie. While attending Trinity, he lived in Waxahachie at 503 Farley Street in the home of his brother, Loyd Curby. Ted made application to Baylor University College of Medicine in April, and graduated Trinity in May of 1940 with a degree in Chemistry. On June 20 Dean Moursund notified Ted that his application for admission to the next freshman class had been “officially approved.” Some time after graduating Trinity, Ted moved to Dallas, registered on Monday, September 23, and began classes the following Monday, September 30, 1940. He pledged Alpha Phi of Phi Beta Pi, medical fraternity.

On September 11, 1942 Theodore Roosevelt Curby and Marjorie Charlotte Moody of Sulphur Springs, Texas were united in marriage. She was a recent graduate of Parkland Hospital School of Nursing in Dallas, and he was beginning his junior year in medical school. They made their home in Dallas. 

At the end of his junior year, Baylor University College of Medicine moved from Dallas to Houston, and on March 13, 1944 at 8:00 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 1020 Lamar Street in Houston, Texas, Ted graduated medical school, with excellent grades, and was commissioned lieutenant (j.g.) in the U.S. Naval Reserve. His intern appointment was at the U.S. Navy Hospital in San Diego, California. 

On December 28, 1944 Dr. Curby was assigned to the USS Daly, a Fletcher Class destroyer, replacing Dr. George Augustine Sheehan as ship’s doctor. The Daly was undergoing an overhaul at the Alameda Ship Yards on San Francisco Bay, and would have a shakedown cruise and training before returning to combat. 

On January 23, 1945 at 1309 hours the Daly steamed from San Diego Bay en route to Pearl Harbor Territory of Hawaii. She reached Pearl Harbor on January 31, and assigned to Destroyer Squadron Twenty-Four. On February 3 at 0657 hours the Daly was en route to Saipan and Iwo Jima. 

The Daly reached the operating area southwest of Iwo Jima on February 16, and participated in the assault until March 7, and then she departed for Leyte in the Philippines. The Daly entered San Pedro Bay at 0740 hours on March 12, and on March 27 she was enroute to the assault and occupation of Okinawa. 

On April 28, 1945 at 1719 hours, while on picket duty, a “Flash Red” was ordered. The Daly took station behind the USS Twiggs, a Fletcher Class destroyer, maneuvering at 25 knots in the vicinity of small support ships. At 1733 hours the Daly spotted a large group of enemy aircraft that she identified as VALS, which were single-engine Naval Dive-Bombers. They appeared from behind a cloud on the port beam. Some of the VALS broke formation to commence long glides, which is a maneuver of the kamikaze, toward the Daly, and were taken under fire by all weapons. Two of the planes were splashed by her gunfire. The remaining planes were moving behind and around the stern of the Daly. The third plane commenced a long shallow glide, but his wing was shot off and he splashed 200-yards from the ship. The fourth VAL started from a much greater altitude heading straight for the bridge in a steep dive. It was hit repeatedly, but never veered off course, then suddenly bursting into flames and losing a wing over the #2 Torpedo Tube. The kamikaze missed the Daly, but smashed into the sea twenty-five yards off the port side, and the five hundred pound bomb it carried exploded on impact spraying the port side of the Daly from stem to stern with shrapnel. Immediately following the fourth plane was a fifth that came in low from behind, but was splashed 700 yards from the fantail. The action was over at 1739 hours. 

The six minutes of sheer terror took three lives, and caused thirty-three casualties aboard the Daly. Doc Curby was giving medical aid to a shipmate at a gun station on the port side when shrapnel from the blast penetrated his skull killing him instantly. 

The naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison wrote, “Few missiles or weapons have ever spread such flaming terror, such scorching burns, such shearing death, as did the kamikaze in his self-destroying onslaughts on the radar picket ships. And naval history has few parallels to the sustained courage, resourcefulness and fighting spirit that the crews of these vessels displayed day after day after day in the battle for Okinawa.” 

On May 4, 1945 Marjorie Charlotte Curby received a telegram from the War Department notifying her of the death of her husband. Doc Curby left behind a wife and a one-year old son, Loyd George Curby. 

Doc Curby was buried on April 29 at 7:00 p.m. in the Seventh Marine Division Cemetery No. 1 on Okinawa Jima, Ryukyu Islands in grave number 591 on row 20 and plot 1. 

On July 10, 1945 the Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, signed a personal letter of condolence to Mrs. Marjorie Charlotte Curby for the loss of her husband.

On July 13, 1945 Lieutenant (j.g.) Theodore Roosevelt Curby was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal, and on August 13, 1948 the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal. His name appears on the Waxahachie Daily Light Honor Roll, and the Ellis County Veterans Memorial.

On March 11, 1949 Lieutenant (j.g.) Theodore Roosevelt Curby was reburied at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas in plot R O 167. 

A granite cenotaph stands on the Curby family lot in Auburn Cemetery in memory of Dr. Ted Curby.

All documents and pictures courtesy of Joe Loyd and Sally Jo (Pannill) Curby, and Loyd George Curby.

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