Curtis Howard was born on August 31, 1917, on Guam. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy on June 4, 1934, and graduated and was commissioned an Ensign on June 2, 1938. Ensign Howard served aboard the heavy cruiser USS Pensacola (CA-24) from June 1938 to September 1939, and then aboard the destroyer USS Greer (DD-145) from September 1939 to July 1940. He next completed flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator at NAS Pensacola, Florida, in January 1941. His next assignment was at NAS Miami, Florida, from February to April 1941, followed by service with Torpedo Squadron 3 (VT-3) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) from April 1941 to January 1942. He remained with the squadron during its move to NAS Pearl Harbor and then NAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, from January to May 1942, and then aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) from May 1942 until he was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942.
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant, Junior Grade Curtis William Howard, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane of Torpedo Squadron THREE (VT-3), attached to the U.S.S. YORKTOWN (CV-5), during the "Air Battle of Midway," against enemy Japanese forces on 4 June 1942. Participating in a Torpedo Plane assault against Japanese naval units, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Howard, in the face of tremendous anti-aircraft fire and overwhelming fighter opposition, pressed home his attack to a point where it became relatively certain that, in order to accomplish his mission, he would probably sacrifice his life. Undeterred by the grave possibilities of such a hazardous offensive, he carried on, with extreme disregard for his own personal safety, until his squadron scored direct hits on two enemy aircraft carriers. His self sacrificing gallantry and fortitude were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.