Curtis Francis Thornton

Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
08 October 1950 - 17 January 1969
North Syracuse, New York
Panel 34W Line 029



Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Curtis Francis Thornton

21 Nov 2000

Posted as a memorial to my cousin
Curtis Francis Thornton,
who died in Vietnam in January of 1969.

Thanks to all who served, especially my cousins.

I would like to locate his brother James Thornton.

Julia Curtiss

15 May 2006

Dear little Brother,

A lot has happened since you were killed and I thought it was about time I put as much on record as I could. Through this site maybe there is some far out chance that this will reach you so here goes.....

I turned 60 years old today. You would have been 56 this October. Everybody else in the very immediate family is gone now. Grandpa Eddie died in 1976 and Gram died in 1983. Our older brother Danny died in 1981. Dad died in 1971 and Mom lived until 1997. I've been the only one since then but I've recently married a wonderful woman and I sure wish you could meet her.

Things were quite chaotic at the house when they came to notify us about you. The Lieutenant knew that I had been in the Marines and had been in Viet Nam so he took me aside and suggested that I sort of take charge of things and try to keep things on an even keel, so to speak. Well I did and I guess everything went about as smoothly as could be expected under the circumstances. Your funeral was the biggest thing they had ever seen in North Syracuse. They had to open up extra viewing rooms at the funeral home just to accommodate all the flowers. When we took you to the cemetery the traffic was backed up in every direction for as far as could be seen. The whole village came to a complete standstill and many people just never got in to the services. We laid you to rest with full military honors. Not a dry eye during "Taps". I wore my Marine uniform for the entire funeral. I'm glad of that. I think it helped me hold up.

I had planned on becoming a police officer and been accepted on The Sheriff's Department or the Syracuse Police if I wanted either one. Well as I'm sure you can imagine, your death changed my thoughts on that. I was going back in the Marines and back to Viet Nam. One night I was approached at The Coconut Shell by a good friend and he "convinced" me that I should quit crying in my beer and follow my original plans. So that's what I did and on March 1st 1969 I became Deputy Sheriff James Thornton. I retired in 1989 with the rank of Lieutenant.

Your gravestone was the first thing I could do to keep your memory alive. The praying hands were Mom's idea and we all agreed on your picture in the center. The phrase on the bottom was my idea. It's the same thing I told you the day you left when you were getting worried about what could happen to you over there - "To Die A Marine Is To Live Forever". A guy I worked with saw that and wrote a very nice poem with that title. It's a very good depiction of you and I on that day and since.

I bought a big boat and was living on it for a few years. Of course I named it "Curtis T". I have a smaller boat now and it's named "Curtis T II".

The VFW in North Syracuse accepted your application for membership one week before you were killed. There was a second boy named Errold Farrar who was accepted on the same night he was killed over there. You were the only two card-carrying members of VFW post 7290 to ever have been killed in action. I formed an AMVETS post in the village and it's called Thornton-Farrar Amvets Post 729.

I belong to Viet Nam Veterans of America Chapter 103. A few years ago we awarded a 2000 dollar scholarship in your name to a Liverpool High School girl.

I guess that about wraps it up. It's a natural fact that I'm going to keep your name living around here for as long as I am able.

Rest in peace, little brother. You were a brave Marine.

James C. Thornton
7496 Elmcrest Road, Liverpool, NY 13090

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The 4th Combined Action Group Command Chronology for January 1969 contains a SPOT report submitted by CAC 4-3 on 17 Jan 1969. SPOT reports follow a standard format; translated to plain English, this one reads as follows:
From: CAC 4-3

Location: 7 KM NW of Quang Tri City, Quang Tri Province

Time: 171845H Jan 69 [6:45 PM, 17 Jan 69]

Incident: Supply boat was returning from CAP 4-3-6 from a resupply mission. At coord YD345617, the occupants were fired on by an unknown size enemy force with small arms fire. Operator of the boat moved from ambush site as soon as possible.

Results: Negative enemy casualties. One USMC KIA.

Action taken: Medevaced USMC KIA

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 21 Nov 2000
Last updated 08/10/2009