VERMOINE VERTELLE “CURLY” KLAUSS
CHARLIE COMPANY CORPSMAN
1941 – 1945
Vermoine Klauss – known universally as “Curly” for his distinctive hair – was a sophomore at Linfield College when war clouds began to gather in 1941. Rather than return for the fall semester, he decided to enlist in the Navy, and entered the service less than two months before Pearl Harbor. After completing his medical training, Curly’s first duty was with a naval base in Seattle; in early 1943, he attended Field Medical School and joined the First Battalion, 24th Marines at Camp Pendleton as a pharmacist’s mate.
Although technically part of the battalion headquarters medical section, Curly was evidently a company aidman attached to a platoon from C/1/24. He would serve with them in every one of the Fourth Marine Division’s battles, treating countless wounds and being wounded himself. A Marine who fell near “Doc” Klauss was in good hands: Curly received a merit-based promotion for his skill under fire, and was twice decorated with the Bronze Star for valor in action. And his compassion extended to his fellow corpsmen; he took such good care of a seasick Walter Dodd that the two became fast friends.
Curly was discharged in November, 1945, after four years in the Navy. He re-enrolled at Linfield, where he met and married Thelma McPike (with Walter Dodd as best man) before completing his bachelor’s of science. The Klausses and the Dodds raised their families together in Missoula, Montana, and the two “Docs” remained close friends until Curly’s death in 2004. (Walter Dodd recently passed away on October 25, 2016.)
All images on this page are courtesy of Carol Yenne, Mr. Klauss’ daughter.
At Camp Pendleton, “M. Naha, Offer, Barr and Stewart.” Charles Barr and Robert Stewart were C Company marines. Offer was a corpsman. The sergeant, “Naha,” is unknown.
Corpsmen Offer and Klauss at Camp Pendleton.
“Pat Offer.” PhM2c John Patrick Offer was killed on Tinian in July, 1944.
“Taken at Kahului on island of Maui T.H. our next base.”
Ben Ross “Bernie” Flores of Gonzales, Texas.
Curly Klauss in full field gear, Camp Maui. Note the distinctive “411” UNIS mark on his canteen.
Klauss in the field with a bespectacled buddy, possibly Corpsman Schreiber.
Visiting the souvenir photo shop near Camp Maui. Curly Klauss is in the middle.
Curly in Hawaii.
When you weren’t training, Maui was a beautiful place.
Horace “Al” Allen, a Charlie Company flamethrower operator, at Camp Maui.
Unknown Marine or corpsman, Camp Maui
A battalion surgeon. “My supply tent, myself and on the left sick bay. Pretty Stateside don’t think – but a hell of a ways from it.”
Tents at Camp Maui.
“Middlewood and Dodd” The chief and one of his most experienced assistants, Camp Maui.
Unknown Marine or corpsman, Camp Maui.
Group photograph, date and location unknown. Klauss is believed to be in the back row at left.
Curly augmented his photo collection with a few images of the destruction he witnessed on the islands.
A blasted Japanese field piece, possibly on Namur.
A destroyed Japanese tank, date and location unknown.
Many of 1/24’s corpsmen were decorated for valor after Iwo Jima. Walter Dodd, Robert Haynes, Robert Ervin, Curly Klauss, and Carl Zaar were awarded the Bronze Star. For Dodd and Klauss, it was the second such honor.
Veteran corpsmen Dodd, Klauss, and Zaar.
PhM2c Robert M. Haynes with his new Bronze Star.
Another decorated corpsman, probably Ben Flores.
Curly Klauss and Haynes pose with a souvenir.
Another man takes his turn. Note this is the same flag as the previous photograph, held at a different angle.
A sizable unit, possibly the 24th Marines, prepares for a formal parade.
The parade commences
On liberty in Wailuku, Maui.
Liberty on the beach.
Flores and Klauss hit the beach.
A swimming party. Back row: Flores, Middlewood, Klauss. Front row, two unknowns, Danhauer, and Swartz.
“One of the finest beaches.” Klauss and Martin Middlewood.
Sailors on the town. Two corpsmen (possibly Cochrane and Munski) at a local watering hole, packed with more traditionally-garbed “swabbies.”
Dodd and Middlewood with the local flora.
Pharmacist’s Mate Charles R. Cochrane.
Corpsmen pose around an ambulance jeep. Haynes, Hearn, Middlewood, and Flores are present.
Searchlights over a town – most likely after the war, when blackout restrictions were lifted.
The Roll of Honor at Camp Maui recorded the names of every Fourth Division marine who lost his life in the war.