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WWII veteran turns 100

The Jonesboro Sun - 1/11/2018

HOXIE - Curtis Lamb still remembers following the U.S. Army onto the beaches of Normandy on D-Day as a medical sergeant.

"It was a bad night, the ships were rocking," Lamb said. "That whole beach was covered in dead soldiers. ... It was terrible."

Lamb and other medical soldiers went onto the beach and cut dog tags off the fallen soldiers. Lamb said the Army had to bury many of the soldiers on the beach, unable to bring them back home.

When he came back from the war after serving for four years in France, Italy and North Africa, Lamb said he tried to cut off any thoughts and memories about what he'd seen. He went back to work on a farm, like his father before him, and started growing cotton and raising children with his wife, Lillie Mae.

On Wednesday, Lamb turned 100, joining others in his family who either came close to or achieved the milestone.

"They say, 'You're going to be 100,' like that's a big deal," Lamb said. "I don't feel any worse or better today than I did a year ago."

Lamb grew up in the Oak Hill community near Sedgwick with his 10 siblings, and spent his childhood helping his dad farm. When he was growing up, Lamb said farms were managed by one or two mules and one or two men, nothing close to the large farms of today.

Lamb still remembers the first time his mother saw an airplane.

"My mother took me out to the garden and laid me under the apple tree," Lamb said. "She saw an airplane coming and picked me up."

Before being drafted into the war, he went to a Civilian Corps Camp in Black Canyon, Idaho, where he learned to build fences for livestock.

"I didn't know a thing in the world," Lamb said.

The experience he gained at the camp helped him in the Army, Lamb said. Lamb went to a GI school in Oak Hill after he got back from the war, and after graduating, got into farming.

Lamb farmed 30 acres, and also raised geese, cattle and beagles. For 40 years, Lamb raised the same kind of beagles, which helped him farm and hunt, one of his greatest passions.

"The good Lord made hunting season just for me," Lamb said.

"He'd rather hunt than eat," Lamb's daughter, Debbie Reithmeyer, said.

Lamb built his home on the farm in 1960 and said he never had a key. He lived at that country home until about four years ago, when he moved into his apartment in Hoxie.

When he was younger, Lamb said Walnut Ridge and Jonesboro were comparable in size. The massive expansion of Jonesboro is just one of the many changes Lamb said he's seen in his 100 years, spent mostly in Lawrence County.

All of Lamb's family still lives close, Reithmeyer said. Lillie Mae died in November 2017. Together, the couple had three children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

"She was a straight country girl, but she was a good one," Lamb said of his wife.

Life has taught Lamb to not panic in times of trouble, he said.

"I learned to meet crises head-on," Lamb said.

Lamb said he's most proud of loving his family and his children. None of his children have ever given him any problems, he said.

Reithmeyer said Lamb has been a great dad.

"He never condemns you, never gets onto you," Reithmeyer said.

Lamb said he doesn't feel guilty about anything in his life, except maybe his habit of chewing tobacco, which started when he was 7 years old. Even at 100, Lamb is still trying to change bad habits and improve his life.

"I'm not proud of that, but I'm trying to quit," Lamb said.


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