1st Lieutenant Robert S. Currier (1919–1944)

1st Lieutenant Robert S. Currier in August or September 1944 (Courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives, enhanced with MyHeritage)
ResidencesCivilian Occupation
Pennsylvania, Delaware, MarylandMechanic’s helper, student chemist
BranchService Number
U.S. ArmyO-446947
Mediterranean, EuropeanCompany “A,” 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
Silver Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman BadgeAnzio, Operation Market Garden
Military Occupational SpecialtyEntered the Service From
1510 (parachute infantry unit commander)Wilmington, Delaware

Author’s note: This article incorporates some text from my previous article about Private John W. O’Daniel, Jr., who also served in the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Market Garden. 

Early Life & Family

Robert Stone Currier was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, on July 8, 1919. He was the eldest son of Karl Moody Currier (described in different documents as a chemist or chemical engineer, 1893–1980) and Alice Stone Merrill Currier (1892–1987). His family moved several times during his youth. Currier was recorded on the census on January 22, 1920, living with his parents at 237 Ridge Road in Claymont, Delaware, just over the state line from Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. The Curriers had apparently moved to Elkton, Maryland, by October 17, 1921, when his younger brother, Philip Lyman Currier (1921–1984), was born. Currier and his family were living at 610 Geddes Street in Wilmington, Delaware, when Currier’s sister, Margery Merrill Currier (later Jones, 1926–1990), was born on May 2, 1926. The Curriers had returned to Elkton by the time of the next census on April 12, 1930, when they were recorded living at 407 North Street. 

Journal-Every Evening stated that Currier moved back to Wilmington around 1931, where he attended Warner Junior High School. After graduating from high school at the Pennsylvania Military Preparatory School in Chester in 1938, Currier enrolled at the affiliated Pennsylvania Military College (P.M.C.), also located in Chester. Although he was away at college, Currier was recorded on the census on April 11, 1940, living with his parents at 2302 Harrison Street in Wilmington.  

Currier (standing, far right) at Chemical Warfare Service R.O.T.C. camp at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, in 1941 (Courtesy of Suzan Mecinski)

In a postwar letter to Currier’s parents, one of his college classmates, Frank Perkins, recalled the determination and fearlessness that Currier exhibited then: 

I remember at PMC when we would play football. Bob used to have trouble with his head when playing football and he should not have played but you could not just stop him from going out every day on the gridiron and doing his part. 

Currier’s yearbook page from his senior year at Pennsylvania Military College (Sabre and Slash 1942)
Currier (second from left) with other members of his company during his senior year at P.M.C. (Sabre and Slash 1942)

In addition to his studies, Currier worked parttime during the summers of 1938 and 1939 at a service center as a mechanic’s helper for $40 a month. During the summers of 1940 and 1941, he worked as a student chemist, testing viscose rayon for $64 a month. (He likely worked at his father’s company, the American Viscose Corporation.)

In an interview for his officer’s qualification card, probably in 1942, Currier listed the sports he participated in as boxing, softball, baseball, basketball, equitation, football, hunting, tennis, track, and wrestling. Currier was issued his private pilot’s license on January 31, 1941. He wrote that he had 50 hours of flying time by the time of the interview. 

According to Currier’s military paperwork, he stood five feet, 9½ inches tall and weighed 150 lbs. He was Protestant. 

Currier’s brother, Philip, who also attended the Pennsylvania Military College, was an officer in the U.S. Army Air Forces in the Pacific Theater during World War II. 

Philip Currier, seen here as an aviation cadet (Courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives)

Stateside Service & North Africa 

After graduating from the Pennsylvania Military College with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Currier was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s Chemical Warfare Service (C.W.S.) on May 19, 1942. He went on active duty on May 29, 1942. According to his mother’s statement to the State of Delaware Public Archives Commission, her son was stationed at Fort DuPont, Delaware, from May 1942 through July 1942, when he transferred to Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland. He then moved to Camp Blanding, Florida, in September 1942. By November 23, 1942, he was a member of the 82nd Chemical Company (Smoke Generator) there. 

Currier was promoted to 1st lieutenant on November 30, 1942. The following day, he arrived at Camp Sibert, Alabama. There, he assumed command of the 82nd Chemical Company (Smoke Generator) on December 6, 1942. 

Journal-Every Evening announced Currier’s engagement to M. Elizabeth Merritt (who worked for the DuPont Company, 1920–2007) on February 13, 1943. The paper later reported that Currier went overseas without getting any leave, “so the marriage was scheduled to take place as soon as he returned to this country.” 

Although it made sense given his chemistry degree, a career in the World War II-era C.W.S. presented limited opportunities. Unlike World War I, World War II did not see widespread use of poison gas as a weapon. The most prominent combat role of the C.W.S., the chemical mortar battalions, were essentially infantrymen, albeit equipped 4.2-inch mortars originally designed with the capability to deliver poison gas shells.  

In a memorandum dated December 16, 1942, 1st Lieutenant Currier requested a “transfer to Airborne Command, Army Ground Forces, for parachute training[.]” He repeated the request on March 13, 1943. 

These requests were not immediately granted. According to his military records, Lieutenant Currier was relieved of command of the 82nd Chemical Company on May 15, 1943. He spent the next two weeks without assignment at the C.W.S. Replacement Pool at Camp Sibert. On May 29, 1943, he moved to Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, before going overseas on June 6, 1943. He arrived in North Africa on June 13, 1943. He was with the 2nd Replacement Depot until August 1943 and then spent several months assigned to the 1st Replacement Depot.  

Currier’s mother stated that he volunteered to become a paratrooper in September 1943, suggesting that either his original requests had been granted once he was overseas or that he made another request while awaiting reassignment in the replacement depots. His records are a little unclear, but Lieutenant Currier apparently transferred to the Infantry branch in the fall of 1943. While at the 1st Replacement Depot, he attended the Mine Warfare and Demolitions course from September 29, 1943, to October 7, 1943. His records state that he completed “L&BT Course #4” from November 15, 1943 – December 11, 1943. This most likely refers to a course at the Fifth Army Leadership & Battle Training Center at Slissen, Algeria. The Fifth Army History stated that the center was established  

to train platoon leaders and noncommissioned officers of the higher grades in leadership, to instruct them in battle procedures found to be effective in the Tunisian campaign, and to offer battle inoculation of all types.  The program, which was designed to teach leaders how to train small units, comprised drills, physical hardening, and the tactical employment of squads and platoons. 

Lieutenant Currier’s records indicate that he completed airborne training in December 1943 (possibly December 15–31, 1943). Since there is no mention of his return to the United States, he must have attended the Fifth Army Airborne Training School at Oujda, Morocco. His qualification card stated that he served as assistant S-3 (operations and training officer) at the Airborne Training Center from January 1, 1944, to February 22, 1944.  


1st Lieutenant Currier joined Company “A,” 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division at the Anzio beachhead on March 1, 1944. That day or the next, he became a platoon leader. He was one of several hundred replacements that joined the heavily depleted airborne regiment around that time.  

The 504th’s first combat jump had been on Sicily in July 1943. One battalion landed by sea during the invasion of mainland Italy at Salerno that September, while two others parachuted in, successfully shoring up the endangered beachhead. After months of fighting its way up the Italian Penninsula, the regiment was tapped again for an amphibious operation at Anzio in January 1944 despite being severely understrength. The landings were supposed to bypass the German Gustav Line, but German reinforcements bottled up the invasion force, leading to months of World War I-style static warfare, with the 504th holding one side of the Mussolini Canal. 

504th Parachute Infantry Regiment paratroopers at the Anzio beachhead, crossing the Mussolini Canal on January 26, 1944 (Official U.S. Army Signal Corps photo 111-SC-377600, National Archives)

In his book, Spearhead of the Fifth Army: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Italy, from the Winter Line to Anzio, Frank van Lunteren wrote that Lieutenant Currier accompanied a raid led by Major Julian Cook (1916–1990) across the Mussolini Canal to the area of Sessano on the night of March 18, 1944: 

First Lieutenant Robert S. Currier from Wilmington, Delaware, had just joined A Company in the “rest area” when he heard of the upcoming C Company patrol. Currier successfully requested permission from the battalion commander to accompany C Company in order to obtain some experience. Along with another new arrival, 1st Lt. Currier would be in the rear of the company. 

Early on the morning of March 19, 1944, all hell broke loose after the Germans opened up on the raiding party with mortar and machine gun fire. The paratroopers returned fire and called in artillery fire to suppress the defenders. Unable to find a weak spot in the German lines, the Americans began to withdraw around 0315 hours. Frank van Lunteren continued: 

While this all took place, 1st Lt. Currier of A Company was still following the rear of C Company with another officer. They watched the firefight in a crouching position from a distance. After a while it became silent again. They slowly made their way forward but could not spot any other paratroopers: C Company had obviously taken a different return route to the American lines. For a while it looked as if the two officers were lost, but they finally managed to find their way back to the American lines. 

Currier earned the Combat Infantryman Badge at Anzio, later awarded per Special Orders 115, Headquarters 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, dated August 10, 1944. 

The 504th was pulled out of the line on the night of March 22–23, 1944. A little over two weeks later, the regiment shipped out from Naples aboard the British transport Capetown Castle to rejoin the rest of the 82nd Airborne Division in the United Kingdom. 

If not before, by September 1944, Currier was platoon leader in 3rd Platoon of Company “A.” In a letter to Lieutenant Currier’s father dated January 13, 1945, his platoon sergeant, William Joseph Schlachter (1914–1959), wrote: 

First I would like to tell you how much we t[h]ought of your son. […] Being closer to the men than a officer, they would tell me what they think of their officer and they sure t[h]ought the world of your Son. I[’]ve heard a lot of boys say they would follow him any place that he wanted to go. I just can’t tell you in writing how much the boys thought of him. He was very proud of his boys and could not do enough for them. 

Operation Market Garden 

The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment arrived in England on April 22, 1944. Its casualties in Italy had been so high that it could not be rebuilt in time to participate in the invasion of Normandy some six weeks later. Only a handful of pathfinders from the regiment jumped at Normandy. The unit’s next operation took place in mid-September 1944: Operation Market Garden.  

Capitalizing on what seemed like the collapse of a Germany army in full retreat from France and Belgium, Allied objectives were bold. Market Garden represented the largest scale airborne operation launched up until that point. Along with the American 101st Airborne Division, the British 1st Airborne Division, and the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade, the 82nd Airborne Division’s orders were to capture and hold bridges in the Netherlands, securing a route of advance for a British armored force moving north from the Belgian border. Doing so would allow Allied ground forces to bypass the German Siegfried Line (Westwall) and penetrate deep into the Ruhr, potentially shortening the war by months. The final bridge, Arnhem, was nearly 65 miles behind enemy lines, making this the deepest airborne penetration that the Allies attempted in the European Theater during the entire war. 

82nd Airborne Division paratroopers boarding a plane at Cottesmore, England, on September 17, 1944 (Official U.S. Army Signal Corps photo 111-SC-213277, National Archives)

The 82nd Airborne Division alone was responsible for capturing nine bridges. Ground forces could be rerouted if at least one bridge over a particular body of water was captured intact and smaller bridges (like those over canals) could be rebuilt. However, if the Germans held or destroyed the larger bridges over any wide bodies of water (like the Waal or Rhine at Nijmegen and Arnhem respectively), Market Garden would fail. 

Most of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (including Currier’s 1st Battalion) were scheduled to jump at Drop Zone “O” (Drop Zone “Oboe,” in the phonetic alphabet of the era), located near Overasselt. The D.Z. was south of Nijmegen and east of Grave on the north bank of the river Maas. 1st Battalion’s initial objectives were to seize a pair of bridges over the Maas-Waal Canal east of their D.Z. The battalion after action report stated that Company “A,” which “in addition to its own light machine guns, also carried the battalion machine guns (eight LMGs), and the battalion mortars” and “was to take up supporting positions so that it could swing to the aid of either company in case of heavy resistance” while they assaulted the bridges. The company history stated that the original plan was for “3d Plat to lay down a base of fire to enable Co B to take Bridge #7” at Heuman while 1st Platoon helped Company “C” take Bridge 8 east of Blankenberg. 

Lieutenant Currier and his men boarded their aircraft in England. German antiaircraft fire rattled 1st Battalion’s aircraft as they flew over the Netherlands, but they made it to their drop zone intact. The Company “A” after action report for Operation Market Garden reported: 

Co A was airborne at 1100, 17 September, and reached the drop zone at 1317.  The company dropped over an area about 700 yards square and one man, Pvt Max D. Edmondson, was hit by a bundle and killed.  They did not assemble as a company, but every man picked up what he could and headed for the windmill at 679541 [51° 46’ 13” North, 5° 49’ 24” East]. 

As of 1440 hours, Lieutenant Currier was still “trying to round up his men on the drop zone.” 20 minutes later, Captain Charles W. Duncan dispatched him to Bridge 7. While Currier and his men approached Bridge 7, the regiment suffered a setback when the Germans blew up Bridge 8 in the faces of the approaching paratroopers. The next bridge north, Bridge 9, was also destroyed. 

Lieutenant Currier and “3d Plat made physical contact with Co B at 698543 [51° 46’ 21” North, 5° 51’ 03” East, though presumably they were on the west rather than the east side of the canal], where all were pinned down by heavy sniper fire.” German soldiers on an island in the canal at the site defended Bridge 7. “At 1930, nine men under Sgt Daniel W. Schaffer participated in taking the island in company with Co B.” 

Detail from a 1/25,000 U.S. Army map of the Groesbeek area, with the windmill where the paratroopers rallied and Bridge 7 circled (Library of Congress, annotated by the author)

Reinforcements also arrived from the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment on the east side of the canal. Paratroopers captured Bridge 7 intact. Although the Germans had wired the bridge with explosives, for unknown reasons they failed to detonate them. Company “B” lost six men killed during the assault on the bridge. With Bridges 7 and 11 (the bridge over the Maas at Grave) secured, the 504th had established a route for the British XXX Corps through their area.  

Currier’s platoon sergeant during Market Garden, William J. Schlachter, in a detail from a 1942 Company “A” group photo (Courtesy of Tyler Fox)

Sergeant Schlachter, Currier’s platoon sergeant, wrote that Currier had a close call early in the battle: 

After we made our jumps in Holland Lt. Currier [led] his men down a ditch getting closer to the german’s [sic]. And the germans firing at us[.] Lt Currier was hit by one bullet on the knee. But the bullet bounced off not even leaving a scratch[.] 

On the second day of the operation, September 18, 1944, Company “A” remained in defensive positions. That evening, the company moved to Bridge 10 at Honinghutje. Bridge 10 was actually a pair or railroad and road bridges next to one another. The railroad bridge had been wrecked and the road bridge damaged but not completely destroyed by German demolition charges.  

The following morning, September 19, 1944, XXX Corps began crossing Bridge 7. The company after action report stated: “On 19 September the company was ordered to the battalion area for a rest, but the 2d Plat remained guarding bridge 10 and the other two platoons were given the mission of outposting Nijmegen from the south.”  

Assault Across the Waal

The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment’s role in the battle was not yet over. German forces still held the road and rail bridges over the Waal at Nijmegen. Further delay in seizing them had the potential to doom not only the operation but also the British 1st Airborne Division, which had a battalion tenaciously holding onto the north end of the bridge at Arnhem. 

As vital as the Waal bridges were to the success of Operation Market Garden, the plan included no coup de main operation to seize the bridges on the first day of the operation. True, the 82nd Airborne Division was spread thin, but a company of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment had been dropped separately to help capture the equally vital bridge over the Maas at Grave. Belatedly, a battalion from the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment moved towards the bridge on the evening of September 17, 1944, but the paratroopers were repulsed by newly arrived Germany reinforcements. After XXX Corps arrived in Nijmegen on September 19, 1944, intense combat broke out Allied forces attempted to force their way through the city to the south end of the bridges.  

If the Allied forces could take the north end of the bridges, it would cut off the Germans fighting in Nijmegen and prevent their resupply or reinforcement. However, none of the 82nd Airborne Division drop zones were positioned north of the Waal. As a result, on September 20, 1944, the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment performed one of the seminal assaults in airborne history not by air but by boat—and in broad daylight. 3rd Battalion, under the command of Major Cook, led the assault that afternoon at 1500 hours. Despite the element of surprise and suppressing fire from tanks and artillery on the south bank, the Germans unleashed a blizzard of fire against the paratroopers from the railroad bridge and the far bank. 20 mm antiaircraft guns proved especially lethal against the wood and canvas boats. The survivors of 3rd Battalion reached the far bank and charged the enemy in a frenzy, overcoming the Germans’ positions one by one. 

Less than an hour later, Company “A” boarded boats. In another of his books, The Battle of the Bridges: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Operation Market Garden, van Lunteren wrote that Company “A” was the fourth wave across the Waal. There was some enemy fire, but the surviving German gun crews were occupied fighting with 3rd Battalion. 

A dramatic photograph of American paratroopers under fire in the fall of 1944. Historian Steven Zaloga wrote that “postwar research suggests that the famous photograph was staged.” (Regionaal Archief Nijmegen)

Around 1600 hours, Lieutenant Currier and 70 other men from his company landed on the north bank of the Waal west of the bridges. The battalion commander, Major Willard E. Harrison (1913–1980), ordered Company “A” to capture Fort Hof van Holland. 

The Company “A” after action report stated: “The 3d Plat had the mission of clearing out the area between the railroad and highway bridges on the north side of the Waal River.” They used the riverbank for cover against fire from the fort, which fell to other elements of the company around 1800 hours. Lieutenant Currier’s platoon  

reached the railroad bridge and set up two light machine guns and two 60mm mortars at 707638 [51° 51’ 29” North, 5° 51’ 37” East, apparently on the railroad embankment north of the bridge].  Lt Currier and Sgt William J. Schlachler [sic], who speaks German, called on the Germans on the bridge to surrender.  As no answer came, the machine guns opened fire and about 15 were killed.  Meanwhile they could hear hammer tapping on the bridge and figured it was about to go up at any moment.  After this burst of fire, Sgt Schlachter again called on them to surrender.  Twenty-one surrendered. 

Detail from a 1/25,000 U.S. Army map of Nijmegen with annotations peraining to September 20, 1944. 1: Appproximate location where the paratroopers launched their boats to cross the Waal. 2: Fort Hof van Holland (Fort Beneden-Lent), captured by Company “A.” 3: Coordinate where Lieutenant Currier set up his machine gun and mortar squads at the north end of the railroad bridge. The road bridge is also visible to the east. (Library of Congress, annotated by the author)

The company after action report does not make it clear, but elements of 3rd Battalion had previously assaulted the north end of the railroad bridge, inflicting major casualties on the Germans holding it. Some of 3rd Battalion continued east to the road bridge as newly arriving troops like Currier and his men took over at the rail bridge. The group of Germans that Currier and his platoon encountered may have been retreating from Nijmegen after an assault by the Grenadier Guards and paratroopers from the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment took the south end of the rail bridge. Exactly when Currier’s platoon arrived is unclear. The 1st Battalion history does little to clarify the chaotic sequence of events: “Co B was at the north end of the railroad bridge at 2015.  Actually there were elements of Cos A, B, G, H, and I and much confusion at the north end of the railroad bridge at 2000.” 

The capture of the railroad bridge was overshadowed by later events at the road bridge. Tim Saunders wrote in his book, Nijmegen, that higher headquarters was unaware of the Allied headway at the south end of the rail bridge due to radio trouble affecting the British tanks. He wrote that they “had been able to report, perhaps the Grenadiers’ main effort could have been switched to the railway bridge and the success exploited far more quickly.” 

The first British tanks crossed the road bridge under fire close to sunset, as the Germans tried unsuccessfully to detonate demolition charges. The tanks and paratroopers from the 504th continued to fight northward until halted by German antitank gun fire. Decades after the war, controversy persists about whether an armored dash that night could have reached Arnhem in time. Regardless, by the following morning German counterattacks had overwhelmed the last of the British paratroopers holding the bridge there. Despite the heroism and sacrifices of so many Allied soldiers and Dutch civilians, Operation Market Garden had failed. 

1st Lieutenant Currier was killed in action on September 21, 1944, the day after the river assault. That morning, Company “A” moved to Oosterhout. The company after action report stated that “3d Plat was in reserve in the orchard immediately behind the juncture of the 1st and 2d Plats.”  

Sergeant Schlachter wrote to Currier’s father about what happened next:  

After get[t]ing all his men placed, Lt Currier and I were sitting under a apple tree talking [and] a stray Bullet hit Lt. Currier in the chest he never said a word or made a sound his head fell forward in his siting position and he died in less than one minute. 

Detail from a 1/25,000 U.S. Army map of Nijmegen with approximate positions of Company “A” positions on September 21, 1944, dug in along Groenestraat. 1st Platoon is marked in dark blue, 2nd Platoon in light blue. Currier’s 3rd Platoon “was in reserve in the orchard immediately behind the juncture of the 1st and 2d Plats.” The site of the orchard where Currier was killed is now a residential neighborhood. (Library of Congress, annotated by the author)
Morning report recording Currier’s death (National Personnel Records Center, courtesy of Thulaï van Maanen)

Lieutenant Currier came to the attention of Major General John “Iron Mike” O’Daniel (1894–1975), a Delawarean whose own son, Private John W. O’Daniel, Jr. (1925–1944), had also been killed while serving with the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Market Garden. Colonel Reuben Henry Tucker, III (1911–1970), commanding officer of the 504th Parachute Infantry, wrote a reply to General O’Daniel regarding Currier in a letter dated April 12, 1945: 

He was killed by sniper fire, dying instantly, while operating with his platoon on the Nijmegen bridgehead in Holland. This unit made the crossing to secure the bridges and his unit was on the left setting up their defenses when he was hit. He was extremely popular with both the officers and men and had been doing a fine job with his platoon. Everybody, including myself, regretted his death because he was the kind of officer that we want in this unit. 

Frank van Lunteren also quoted an unpublished memoir by Sergeant Albert B. Clark, a member of 2nd Platoon in Currier’s company: “Currier was a helluva nice young fellow and everybody liked him. We were all upset when Currier got killed.” 

Weary 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment paratroopers marching back from the front lines on September 22, 1944 (Official U.S. Army Signal Corps photo 111-SC-377590, National Archives)
The railroad bridge at Nijmegen seen after it was damaged by German frogmen on the night of September 28–29, 1944 (Official U.S. Army Signal Corps photo, courtesy of Thulaï van Maanen)

Journal-Every Evening reported that Currier’s parents were notified of his death on October 12, 1944. When the sad news arrived, Currier’s brother, Philip, “was at home on furlough [sic] from the South Pacific, where he was wounded in action while piloting a B-25 bomber.” Lieutenant Currier was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the river assault and seizure of the railroad bridge, per General Orders No. 57, Headquarters 82nd Airborne Division, dated October 29, 1944. During a ceremony broadcast over WDEL on March 23, 1945, Colonel Randolph Russell presented Lieutenant Currier’s father with the medal. Currier was also awarded the Purple Heart. 

After the war, Currier’s family requested that his body be repatriated. Following funeral services at Hanover Presbyterian Church in Wilmington on January 12, 1949, Lieutenant Currier was buried in nearby Riverview Cemetery. 

Lieutenant Currier is honored on two memorials on the banks of the Waal in Nijmegen and at Veterans Memorial Park in New Castle, Delaware.


The front of Lieutenant Currier’s Officer’s Qualification Card. This kind of document is extremely rare for U.S. Army personnel who served in World War II, as most personnel files from the era were destroyed at a 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. (Courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives)
The back of Lieutenant Currier’s Officer’s Qualification Card. (Courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives)
One of Currier’s requests to transfer for airborne training (Courtesy of Suzan Mecinski)
Letter from 1st Lieutenant Renean G. Breard to Karl Currier (Courtesy of Suzan Mecinski)
Condolence letter from General James M. Gavin to Karl Kurrier (Courtesy of Suzan Mecinski)
Letter from 1st Sergeant William J. Schlachter to Karl Currier (Courtesy of Suzan Mecinski)
Currier Silver Star citation (Courtesy of Suzan Mecinski)
Letter from Currier’s regimental commander, Colonel Reuben H. Tucker, to General “Iron Mike” O’Daniel (Courtesy of Suzan Mecinski)


Military Records 

A copy of Currier’s officer’s qualification card is on file at the Delaware Public Archives, presumably donated by his family. This card provides detailed information about his education, work history, and military service. It is an especially valuable document for narrating his military career given the destruction of most of the U.S. Army’s World War II personnel files during the 1973 National Personnel Records Center fire. 


Although Journal-Every Evening reported that Lieutenant Currier was a member at Hanover Presbyterian Church, his officer’s qualification card listed his religion as Methodist. 


The exact period Currier was in airborne training is unclear on his qualification card. One area stated he was at the 1st Replacement Depot through December 14, 1943, then was a trainee at the Airborne Training Center from December 15–31, 1943. On the special service schools section of the same card, he was listed as taking jump training at the Airborne Training Center from November 27, 1943, through December 10 or 20, 1943. Curiously, there is another note in the remarks section that would seem to overlap with the other dates: “Completed L&BT Course #4, 11/15/43 – 12/11/43, Personnel Ctr #2.” This indicates that he also attended the Fifth Army Leadership and Battle Training Center near Slissen, Algeria. 

There is a very slight discrepancy in the date he became a platoon leader in the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. His qualification card listed March 1, 1944, while the company morning reports listed the following day. 

Bridge 7 

On September 20, 1944, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the British Coldstream Guards repulsed a counterattack in the area of Mook aimed at Bridge 7, the vital lifeline to Nijmegen and beyond. The fighting cost the life of another Delawarean, Private John W. O’Daniel, Jr. (1925–1944).  

Sergeant Schlachter 

Sergeant Schlachter, Currier’s platoon sergeant, had been with the 504th since its stateside service. The event he mentioned involving Lieutenant Currier’s close call would seem to have most likely occurred on September 17, 1944. The letter indicated that it occurred the day before the river assault, September 19, which was a relatively quiet period for Currier’s company. Compression of events in later recall is not uncommon. 

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Schlachter earned the Bronze Star Medal during the attack on the railroad bridge, though it erroneously referred to him as a platoon leader: 

The platoon leader, who speaks German, had advanced on a railroad bridge after the enemy waved a white flag of surrender. One of the Germans threw a concussion grenade at him, knocking him off his feet. Sergeant Schlachter recovered immediately, however, and led his platoon to attack the enemy, making possible the killing of 20 Germans and the capture of 21.  

This account is interesting to compare with the company after action report, which omits any mention of Germany perfidy, though a similar incident was documented near that location in van Lunteren’s The Battle of the Bridges


Currier was killed in the town of Oosterhout, northwest of Nijmegen, not to be confused with the much larger city of Oosterhout, located well to the southwest. 


Miriam Elizabeth Merritt married William Blair Green in Wilmington on March 27, 1948. The couple raised one son. 

Photo Enhancement 

The photo at the top of this page was digitally enhanced using tools on the genealogy website MyHeritage. This software is useful in instances like this where the original print was apparently damaged by ink from a page it was stored against. I believe this to be an accurate reconstruction, but the software could potentially introduce errors by misinterpreting fuzzy details in the original photograph. A comparison of the original and enhanced versions of the photos can be viewed below. 

Comparison of the original (left) and the product of MyHeritage’s enhancements (right); I further retouched the background to remove the damage done by the ink transfer to the original print


Special thanks to Lieutenant Currier’s niece, Suzan Mecinski, for contributing records and letters that were vital in telling this story. Thanks also go out to Thulaï van Maanen, Tyler Fox, and the Delaware Public Archives for the use of photos and records. 


“Company A, 1st Bn, 504th Para Inf, 82d Abn Div.” World War II Operations Reports, 1940–1948. Record Group 407, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1905–1981. National Archives at College Park, Maryland. 

Currier, Alice Stone Merrill. Robert Stone Currier Individual Military Service Record, c. 1945. Record Group 1325-003-053, Record of Delawareans Who Died in World War II.  Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware. https://cdm16397.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15323coll6/id/18299/rec/2  

Currier, Robert S. “Transfer of Officer to Airborne Command, Parachute Troops.” December 16, 1942. 

Currier, Robert S. “Transfer of Officer to Airborne Command, Parachute Troops.” March 13, 1943.  

Delaware Marriages. Bureau of Vital Statistics, Hall of Records, Dover, Delaware. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/61368/images/TH-267-12435-49859-62  

“Elizabeth Merritt Green.” The News Journal, June 19, 2007. Pg. B4. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/109586832/m-elizabeth-merritt-obit/  

“Engagements.” Journal-Every Evening, February 13, 1943. Pg. 8. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/108422013/currier-engagement/  

Fifth Army History Part I: From Activation to the Fall of Naples. https://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p4013coll8/id/1451  

Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Record Group 29, Records of the Bureau of the Census. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6224/images/4606970_00138 

Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. Record Group 29, Records of the Bureau of the Census. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6061/images/4295771-00794 

“Karl M Currier.” Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/24109982/karl-m-currier  

Lunteren, Frank van. The Battle of the Bridges: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Operation Market Garden. Casemate Publishers, 2014. 

Lunteren, Frank van. Spearhead of the Fifth Army: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Italy, from the Winter Line to Anzio. Casemate Publishers, 2016. 

Lynch, Tim. Operation Market Garden: The Legend of the Waal Crossing. Spellmount, 2011. 

Margery Merrill Currier birth certificate. Record Group 1500-008-094, Birth certificates. Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YQM-QX5J  

“Medals Awarded 2 Phila. Heroes.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 14, 1945. Pg. 16. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/109644402/schlachter-504th/  

Morning Reports for Company “A,” 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. April 1944 – October 1944. U.S. Army Morning Reports, c. 1912–1946. Record Group 64, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri. Courtesy of Thulaï van Maanen. 

Perkins, Frank. Letter to Karl and Alice Currier, c. November 22, 1945. 

“Posthumous Award of Medals To State Men to Be Broadcast.” Journal-Every Evening, March 23, 1945. Pg. 11. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/108433221/currier-silver-star/  

Robert Stone Currier Officer’s and Warrant Officer’s Qualification Card. Record Group 1325-003-053, Record of Delawareans Who Died in World War II.  Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware. https://cdm16397.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15323coll6/id/18302/rec/2  

Sabre and Sash 1942. http://digitalwolfgram.widener.edu/digital/collection/p270801coll6/id/8625  

Saunders, Tim. Nijmegen: US 82nd Airborne and Guards Armoured Division. Leo Cooper, 2001. 

Schlachter, William J. Letter to Karl Currier, January 13, 1945. 

“Services Wednesday For Lieutenant Currier.” Journal-Every Evening, January 10, 1949. Pg. 23. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/108406569/currier-funeral/  

Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Record Group 29, Records of the Bureau of the Census. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2442/images/m-t0627-00551-00456 

Tucker, Reuben H. Letter to John W. O’Daniel, April 12, 1945. 

“Veteran Paratrooper Killed During Battle in Holland.” Wilmington Morning News, October 14, 1944. Pg. 1 and 4. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/108405944/currier-kia-1/, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/108406032/currier-kia-2/  

Walding, Malcolm M. “Certificate of Adequacy of Quarters.” May 29, 1943. 

WWII Draft Registration Cards for Delaware, 10/16/1940–3/31/1947. Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System. National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2238/images/44003_11_00002-00649  

Zaloga, Steven J. Operation Market-Garden 1944 (1): The American Airborne Missions. Osprey Publishing, 2014. 

Last updated on October 13, 2022

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2 thoughts on “1st Lieutenant Robert S. Currier (1919–1944)

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