Lyle Carl Curtis was one of several sailors killed on the U.S.S. Arizona even though their enlistments were up.
Mr. Curtis, a radioman and petty officer second class, joined the Navy on Sept. 14, 1937. In a letter to a friend in October 1941 he said his enlistment had ended the month before. “The rumor has it we’ll be back for Thanksgiving. Boy do I hope so, I’m going out if I starve to death. I’ve had enough which is plenty.”
The Arizona did not make it back to the mainland that fall because during night maneuvers on Oct. 22 it collided with the U.S.S. Oklahoma and stayed in Hawaii for repairs. It was finally scheduled to sail for Long Beach on Dec. 13. Once in California, Mr. Curtis probably would have been released.
Instead, on Dec. 7, 1941, he and 1,176 shipmates were killed when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, bombing and sinking the Arizona.
Mr. Curtis was born Oct. 26, 1917 in Wisconsin to Ralph Curtis, a railroad depot agent, and Lillian Andress Curtis, a homemaker. At the time he enlisted, the family lived in Jacobs, population 449, in north central Wisconsin.
Sources: U.S. Militaria Forum, letter from Mr. Curtis; Census; Navy muster roll. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.