NATHANIEL C. CURETON, JR., COL, USA
Nathaniel Cureton, Jr. '21
Date of birth: July 18, 1898
Date of death: June 20, 1945
"Cureton, N.C." is listed on the page "Stray Losses."
The Howitzer (West Point Yearbook)
From the 1924 Howitzer:
Nathaniel C. Cureton, Jr. was born In Louisville, Kentucky, on July 18, 1898. He graduated from Louisville Male High School and was appointed to the United States Military Academy in 1920, graduating with the Class of 1924. He served with the Field Artillery until September 1, 1935, at which time he transferred to the Quartermaster Corps.
When the United States entered World War II, Nat expressed a desire for Foreign Service and combat duty. He believed that he could render maximum benefit to the war effort as an officer of the Field Artillery and, accordingly, transferred back to that branch of service.
During the period September 1944 to January 1945, Nat served with his brother, Colonel William H. Cureton. F.A., as an instructor at the Ramgarh Training Center, Ramgarh, India. He was appointed Inspector of Gunnery in the Armored Force section which was then busily engaged in training five battalions of tanks for the Chinese Array in India. Upon learning that those units would never see combat. Nat arranged for a transfer to be Senior Liaison Officer to the Fifth Chinese Artillery Regiment, 105 truck drawn millimeter howitzers, which was then scheduled for movement forward to Burma. Nat. elated at this chance for more active service and with his customary dry wit and quiet effectiveness dove into his new job. His obvious sincerity did much to overcome a very bad morale and disciplinary problem in that regiment which had just caused the relief of the Chinese commander. The conclusion of the campaign in North Burma resulted in Nat’s regiment becoming the first Chinese artillery regiment to motor over the Ledo Road into China. The regiment was moved forward to Hunan Province almost immediately and was assigned missions as battalions in the offensive operations scheduled to take place in August, but which never occurred because of the early end of the war.
It was while on reconnaissance, preparatory to these operations, that Nat ran into the great misfortune that was to cost his life. With several U.S. and Chinese Officers, Nat jeeped forward from Ishan toward Liuchow, then held by the Japs, to inspect the Chinese front line positions and learn at first hand their special characteristics, needs, and methods of close-in artillery support. The road was built up over surrounding paddy fields and in some unaccountable way the jeep passed through the Chinese front line and up to a Jap road block which was thought to be Chinese. Upon dismounting, the party encountered Jap machine gun fire and dispersed into the bordering paddy fields and ditches. A few moments later Nat was seen to have been hit several times in the body and was lifeless.
Survivors include his mother, Mrs. Mattie H. Cureton, Louisville, Kentucky; his wife, Mrs. Catherine Etter Cureton, San Antonio, Texas; and his brother, Colonel W. H. Cureton, Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
He is buried in Kentucky.
Lieutenant Colonel NATHANIEL C. CURETON, JR., 015684, Field Artillery, Regular Army, is awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious conduct in the performance of duty from 1 April 1945 to 12 June 1945, as Director of Training Battalions (Motorized), at the Field Artillery Training Center. He initiated the training of motorized Chinese Battalions at this training center. By his patient and tactful attitude toward our Chinese Allies, he effectively and smoothly accomplished notable results in a minimum of time. His thorough professional knowledge, close attention to duty and enthusiasm for the job in hand, were conducive to added efforts on the part of the Chinese. He ably supervised the preparation of training schedules and progress tests. His efforts contributed materially in the training of Chinese Motorized Field Artillery. His death was caused by enemy action while he was on reconnaissance near enemy lines.