Tom Braatz remembers how great his older brother Curtiss was.

“He was like a dad, you know, we thought he was 10-feet tall, that he was invincible,” Tom said. “He was always very cool to us.”

Tom was only 13 when reality set in. His older brother, his friend, was killed in action while assisting a convoy that was ambushed by enemy forces during the Vietnam War. Only 20 years old at the time, Curtiss proved what kind of hero he really was.

He was fatally shot while providing protective cover for the drivers of the convoy, continuing to fire until he was hit. For his actions, Curtiss received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, which were presented to his mother, Hilda Braatz in 1969.

“What he did was quite heroic,” Tom said. “We were very proud of him and very saddened at the same time.”

Students at Charlotte High School walk past his name everyday. The name Curtiss Braatz is engraved upon the award for which it was named in 1969. Those that walk past the trophy case in the CHS lobby likely have little understanding of who he was or of the sacrifice he made for his country.

That changes this Veteran’s Day. Charlotte High School will honor Pfc Curtiss Braatz during a special ceremony in which his family will donate his medals to the school.

“It’s really great what the school is doing,” Tom said. “Curt went to high school there, played sports and really cared a lot about that place.”

The presentation will take place at 10:08 a.m. in the High School lecture room. In addition to the medal presentation, local veteran, Don Colizzi will give a reading on “Old Glory” as well as provide a presentation on the Bronze Star, its meaning and significance. The presentation will be attended by close to 300 students, said teacher and event organizer John Moran.

“We’re trying to call attention to the fact that freedom is not free,” Moran said. “There were people who answered their country’s call and paid the ultimate price for our freedom.”

Moran said the medals, which will be displayed in shadow boxes created by one of the woodshop classes, will reside within the high school media center, close to the display of Frances Flaherty, who received the Medal of Honor for valor during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“We wanted there to be a centralized location where students could reflect on those displays,” Moran said. “The cost of war has been paid by people in our town and our county. We need to continue to call attention to their sacrifice, not just on Veteran’s Day.”Curtiss Braatz