Monday, April 16, 2007

Curtis Hall remembered for bravery

Curtis Hall was a hero long before he died in Iraq a week ago.

At age 14, the Burley youth saved his father’s life, but on Friday, April 6, his own life was sacrificed in service to his nation.

Curtis’s commanding officer, Commander Martin Beck put the service in perspective while visiting Hall’s family Wednesday evening.

“So many take for granted the freedom we have,” Beck said. “Curtis offered freedom to so many who have never known it.”

Many in Mini-Cassia recall the rafting trip on the main fork of the Salmon River 10 years ago with a group of Boy Scouts that nearly took Curtis’ father’s life. During a severe microburst, a boulder came loose from the mountainside and hit Ron Hall on the head. It also injured Curtis’ arm.

The impact knocked Ron out of the boat and unconscious.

Curtis jumped in, despite his own injury, and with his brother Randy’s help, they pulled their dad out of the water.

Curtis’ mother, Pam Hall, is a Special Education teacher at White Pine Intermediate School.

“To show you how self-less Curtis was, one of the men attending to Ron’s severe head-injury said they needed more bandages,” she said. “Curtis took the bandages off of his own arm, those protecting the deep laceration, and offered them to his dad.”

The brothers’ heroism was recognized by the Boy Scouts of America with both receiving the Honor Medal for saving a life with personal risk.

The experience was featured in Boy’s Life, the official magazine of the Boy Scouts, in 1998. Curtis earned his Eagle Scout rank, receiving it at age 16.

Curtis’ older brother, Robert Hall, said the Naval officers reminded the family that, through Curtis’ efforts and those of his fellow soldiers, hundreds of lives had been saved.

Curtis, a Petty Officer 2nd Class, was with part of an Explosive Ordnance Unit (EOD) responsible for the identification, safe rendering and disposal of explosive devices like road side bombs.

Curtis was killed Friday in combat near Kirkuk, Iraq. It was his second tour of duty. He had only been in Iraq for a short time.

“He was a hero, a patriot, self-less,” Beck said with sadness. “I cannot atone for what he gave, there is nothing I can say or do to make up for his loss.“

Curtis’s Unit was based out of Oak Harbor, Wash. from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. Two other officers also died in the combat.

All three men were traveling in a convoy that was attacked, according to a Pentagon report.

“Both boys went on to serve in the military, we knew especially that Curtis would make a lifetime commitment to the Navy,” said Pam.

The EDO unit seemed to be just the right fit for Curtis.

“My brothers Randy and Curtis always had a love for pyrotechnics,” Robert said. “Even from a young age.“

Pam talked with her son the night before his death. He called to wish his mom a happy birthday. He talked with both Pam and his older sister Brenda.

“I always told him I loved him, was proud of him and that Heavenly Father was proud of him,” Pam said. “I told him all that again. He said he was tired, that he’d been working 36-40 hours and that he was going to take a hot shower, eat some hot food and sleep a couple of hours before going to work again.”

Despite the tragedy, Pam showed little regret.

“Would I let him go again? Yes. We support our troops,” she said. “Do we like everything that’s going on in this war? No. But we knew the cost and so did Curtis.“

A 2000 graduate of Burley High School, his principal, Robert Plotts, nicknamed Curtis and his friends the “rat pack.”

“He was mischievous and so were his friends,” Pam said. “But Curtis also enjoyed playing the piano, trombone, guitar, marching band and singing in Bel Cantos.“

He was a lanky, 6-foot 7-inch basketball player for Burley. His varsity basketball coach, Matt Harr, recalled Curtis’ work ethic.

“Curtis was just one of those kids, that all three years he played he always worked so hard, was a great role-player, and never complained,” Harr said.

Many saw how much Curtis loved life.

“He was always happy,” said Susan Anderson, one of his former teachers, ”He would crack jokes and just make us laugh.“

Curtis’ brother Randy will be escorting Curtis’ body to Burley. It is scheduled to arrive this afternoon at Twin Falls Municipal Airport before being brought by military escort to Rasmussen Funeral Home on East 16th Street. He is expected to arrive in Burley before 4 p.m.

Funeral services are scheduled for Monday. White Pine Intermediate School will not hold classes that day.

From the Press

Related Link:
Curtis Hall remembered

Related Link:
Curtis R. Hall dies of injuries from I.E.D.