“Values Carried Through Life”: West Point, Vietnam, And Reunions

Gilbert Curl and Virginia Hemingway Curl


Gil Curl grew up in an Army family. His dad, an armor officer, commissioned in 1939. Gil remembers living around the world as a boy, and his favorite locations were Cambodia and when his dad was assigned to the Pentagon. He remembers becoming interested in attending West Point when he was 12. His cousin graduated from the Academy in 1959, and his younger brother graduated from West Point three years after Gil, in 1968. Gil and Virginia met at West Point; she was from Newburgh, and attended dances at West Point. Their dates consisted of walks along the Hudson River and eating at the “Weapons Room.” They were married at St. George Episcopal Church in Newburgh, and their reception was at Stewart Field. Their first assignment, a brief one, was in Germany. In 1966, they reported to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, where Gil set up a training center for Soldiers going to Vietnam. He completed one cycle and was then reassigned to the G3 for the 101st Airborne Division. In July 1967, the Curls moved to Ft. Irwin, California, where Gil was assigned with classmates Skip O’Donnell and Jim Talbot, to 5th Battalion, 22nd Field Artillery, a new 175mm battalion. Virginia was pregnant, and Ft. Irwin was such a small and remote post that, depending on when she went into labor, either the Veterinarian or the OB/GYN was going to deliver her baby. In December 1967, Gil deployed to Vietnam by ship with the battalion, and was assigned as a Battery XO for A Battery, near Pleiku along Highway 19. Typically, his battery fired H&I missions (harassment and interdiction) in support of 4th Infantry Division convoys. Virginia had returned home to New York, and was disheartened by the anti-war protests, and particularly by the constant burials at West Point. Virginia and Gil kept in contact through letters and audio tapes, and Gil could frequently be found walking around the firebase talking into his tape recorder. He then spent 6 months as a battery commander, and finished his tour at the Corps Artillery Headquarters on an inspection team. Gil and Virginia met in Hawaii on R&R and felt that the clock was ticking. She remembers the experience as their most traumatic leave-taking. He returned from Vietnam in November, and in 1970 transitioned to the Army Reserve, serving as an Engineer Company Commander and taking a job with IBM. Gil left the Army Reserve in 1977 as a Major. In 1993, their son David graduated from West Point. They make it a point of attending every reunion, and love keeping in contact with members of the Class of ’65. Gil considers the commitment to values he learned at West Point to be the foundation of an honorable way of life.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics West Point History Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Military Family USMA 1965
interviewer David Siry
date 02 July 2021


name Gilbert Curl and Virginia Hemingway Curl
institution USMA
graduation year 1965
service Field Artillery
unit A Battery, 5th Battalion, 22nd Field Artillery
service dates 1965 1977