134th Infantry Regiment
"All Hell Can't Stop Us"
Kansas City Star
Thursday, June 6, 1985
WAR HERO KEPT LOW PROFILE
Friends Unaware of WW II Feats
By Lauretta Schultz
Chuck Perz knew Edward Curliss for 8 years before discovering his friend was a war hero. Carl Barreca, another close friend, only learned by accident of the bravery of Mr. Curliss, also known as Leo, in World War II. "Leo is a very humble man," Mr. Barreca said. "I had known him for years when I happened to be over at his house and saw one of the articles in a frame on the wall." And after all of these years, most people--even those close to Mr. Curliss--still don't know about the medals and honors he won. That simply isn't his style. "In the infantry they always taught us to have a low profile," said Mr. Curliss, of Kansas City. "I've been that way all of my life." But with some prodding, he will tell how it finally dawned on him about daybreak 41 years ago today--D-Day--that he was fighting in a real war.
He was lying on Omaha Beach in France, without his gun. German soldiers rained bullets down on him and thousands of other Allied soldiers who took part in the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944. "It was about 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning," Mr. Curliss recalls. "I couldn't have shot anything when I first hit the beach. I lost my gun, and almost everything else, in the water. "I raised my head up off of the sand and said, 'Hey, there's a war going on. Those guys are shooting at us.' " But within 3 months, the 19-year-old private, then a member of the 118th Infantry and "scared half to death," would earn a Silver Star for courage and gallantry in battle.
It happened in a small French village on a night late in August of 1944 when he was a member of Company G of the 134th
Infantry in the 35th Infantry Division. "it was about midnight, and I was on patrol," he said. The night was especially dark, but by crouching low to the ground he could make out the silhouettes of people approaching his outpost. "I figured they were free Frenchmen wandering around," he said. "So I thought I could scare them a little by hollering at them. They kept coming. All of a sudden they grabbed me from all directions, took my gun and everything from my pockets and started marching me down the street." Mr. Curliss had encountered a column of German soldiers, and as they led him down the street, all he could think of
was that he had to escape or he would probably die.
"They didn't take my knife," he said. "So I started going crazy and fighting with them. I grabbed one of their guns and had this guy on the ground. I would have shot him, but it was dark and this was a weird gun and I didn't know which end was the barrel. So I beat the heck out of him with it." Mr. Curliss was able to seize his own M-1 rifle and started shooting into the column. His shots alerted the rest of his company and 67 of the German soldiers were taken prisoner. "I didn't think of it as being a hero, really," Mr. Curliss said. "I thought I'd had it. I was too scared to think about anything else." But the Army thought it was
heroic. His Silver Star and citation now hang on the wall of his home, next to the five battle stars, two Purple Hearts, Bronze Star and Oak Leaf Cluster he also earned before the war was over.
That wall in the Curliss home at 11415 Palmer Ave. is the only way most people ever learn of Mr. Curliss' war experiences. "I went to his house to play cards and saw the medals," Mr. Perz said. "He's a very quiet man."
Sgt. Edward L. Curliss, son of Mr. H.C. Curliss and the late Myrtle Heron Curliss, Hartshorne, husband of Clarice Bell, attended Scipio High School, Scipio, OK. Entered Army, 1943, trained at Camp Hood, Texas. Served in Europe. Awarded
Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, 1 Cluster, ET Ribbon, 4 Battle Stars, Combat Inf. Badge and GCM. Wounded in France and Germany, 1944. Discharged in 1945. Died August, 1995, in Hickman Mills, MO, of cancer.
Submitted by Pat Leiker - The neice of Sgt. Edward L. Curliss
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