Private First Class Curtis C. Morris was a paratrooper in the Easy Company, 504 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division died, the beginning of Operation Market Garden in Holland on Sept. 17, 1944. “We needed to seize a series of bridges so our forces could begin the liberation of Europe after the breakout from Normandy,” Soyster said. “On 17 September 1944, the 82nd Airborne Division jumped into Holland. Their objective was to seize the Maas bridge.”
Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on September 18, 1917, Morris enlisted on October 14, 1940. He underwent extensive training to become a paratrooper, and he saw his first combat in July 1943 when he jumped in the Sicily campaign. Morris was injured later in Salerno by mortar grenades and was awarded the Purple Heart for the wounds he received there. After recovering, Morris rejoined his unit and took part in the battle of Anzio.He was serving as the runner for Easy Company Commander Captain Walter Van Poyck, at the time of his jump at the start of Operation Market Garden.
The jump was to be Morris' last. “After his prior combat actions, Curtis Morris once again stood in the door of a C-47 flying over the village of Velp in Holland,” Soyster said. “On this day, his parachute malfunctioned, and before his reserve chute could fully deploy, he plummeted through a plum tree on the farmyard of farmer Jan Van Den Hoogen.”After his fall, Morris was carried into Van Den Hoogen's barn by U.S. soldiers. When the soldiers checked the pocket of his uniform, they discovered the photograph of Morris' baby daughter, Carol, and a Rosary.
“When the soldiers discovered Morris was Catholic, they sent for the priest of a (The Monastery Mariëndaal) nearby Jesuit monastery, Father Hanssen, to baptize Private Morris and give him the Last Sacraments. Approximately two hours later, he died on the day before his 27th birthday.”Morris' body was placed on a bier in the Jesuit monastery. The next day, five U.S. soldiers recovered his body as the abbot and rector prayed the Lord's Prayer and a Hail Mary as the seminarians formed a lane at the gate through which Morris was carried. Morris was buried on September 21, 1944, in a temporary U.S. military cemetery “Molenhoek” near Nijmegen. He reached his final resting place on February 9, 1949, as he was reburied in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Jesuits in Holland (here)
Photo of Mariendaal Seminary in Velp, Holland
Relive Operation Market Garden by watching the movie "A Bridge To Far"