For two decades, Charles Curtis served in the military and after retirement he continued to fight for fellow soldiers in many ways.
“I’m a veteran and I promote veteran issues and I stand behind the veterans 100 percent,” Curtis said. “Anything I can do to help the veterans, I’m there.”
Curtis was recently honored as the state winner for Outstanding Veteran Volunteer by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The award was presented during a spring conference in Durham. He was sponsored by the Richard Clinton chapter in Clinton.
“I feel very fantastic and lucky to have been chosen for the award,” Curtis said.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1957 through 1977. The Vietnam veteran earned a Bronze Star, Vietnamese Cross of Valiantly, Army Commendation Medal and Good Conduct Medal.
As a youth, Curtis had set his sights on serving in the military and enlisted as a teenager.
“Growing up, I used take a white handkerchief, tie the four ends together and tie it to a stick or a rock. Throw it up in the air and it becomes a paratrooper,” Curtis said about using his imagination as a child. “I knew that I would be military from the start.”
Curtis is the past commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and past president of the Sampson Veterans Council and is the present commander of American Legion Post 22. DAR officials added that Curtis was recognized for a flag retirement program and involvement in a Veterans Council project to build a a fence for a local nursing home. He led a Missing In Action/Prisoner of War program for Sampson County and under his command, the VFW received an 2012-2013 outstanding post award.
Curtis said veterans have gone through bad turmoil, especially ones from the Vietnam era. Some of the issues he mentioned was not being appreciated.
“Our generation is here to let the American people and the public know that we’re not going away,” said Curtis, who served three tours in Vietnam. “This is not going to happen to a veteran again — the things we had to go through returning from Vietnam.”
DAR officials commended his work with veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the Patriot Pin essay contest for middle school students, Voice of Democracy for high school students and is the director of the VFW Teacher of the Year award. Some of his other work includes participation in Christmas parades, a flag folding program at local schools and other military related programs.
His 60 hours of volunteering each week includes passing out fruit baskets to veterans at nursing homes and to spouses of deceased veterans.
“What I do is out of love for other veterans,” Curtis said.
DAR officials noted that Curtis made himself available to councils and transporting veterans to hospitals. Some of that work may include getting up early in the morning to take a veteran to a medical facility for treatments and not returning until the evening. Some of those stops include Fayetteville, Winston-Salem, Durham, UNC Hospital and Wilmington.
Founded in 1890, DAR is a non-profit women’s organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving history and making sure the country is better for future generations.
“They’re a fantastic organization,” Curtis said about DAR.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.