November 2, 2021 By Carol Britton Meyer
The Hingham High School Class of 1961 will be raising funds to pay for a new sign at Chase Field at Plymouth River School in honor of their former classmate and friend, the late Curtis Chase, who lost his life while serving in the Vietnam War as a first lieutenant.
After taking care of the plaque that was installed earlier at Chase Field in honor of this fallen hero for a number of years, Bill Quinn met recently with Interim Supt. of Schools Gary Maestas and Interim PRS Principal Greg Lamothe to propose a new sign at Chase Field in remembrance of his best friend.
Maestas presented the idea to the School Committee Monday, along with two proposed designs for the sign and a detailed essay Quinn wrote about Lt. Chase for Memorial Day several years ago.
"Mr. Quinn came to me because he and others from the Class of 1961 are preparing for a reunion and would like to raise funds to build a sign at Plymouth River School," he explained. "He was a close friend of Curtis Chase and provided a very compelling testament about the will and commitment of his classmates to raise the money for the sign."
Quinn, a Sanborn Road resident, is passionate about installing this remembrance in honor of Chase's significant contributions to the Class of 1961 and to his country.
"A [great deal] of fundraising would need to take place before the sign could be installed, hopefully by the beginning of the next school year," Maestas said.
The School Committee approved accepting the sign as a gift.
Chase, who grew up on Garrison Road, played Little League baseball at Haley Field and was a Troop 1 Boy Scout and a goalie for the high school hockey team in addition to being an honor student.
Chase and Quinn grew up together and shared common interests in "everything outdoors that a group of friends shared," Quinn recalls in his 2017 essay. What stood out to him was Chase's high energy level and enthusiasm for, and love of, life.
"He had a terrific sense of humor and was known on occasion to be a practical joker," Quinn wrote. "He was a hard worker in all things, including schoolwork. He read widely and always had a book that he would share. Those close to him still miss him!"
After graduation came an Army ROTC commission as a second lieutenant, and Chase entered active duty in the fall of 1965. In December of that year, he married Judy Clifford.
Following completion of Infantry Officers Basic course at Fort Benning, Georgia, Chase was assigned as tack officer instructing new Army recruits at Ford Ord in California. He received his orders for Vietnam during the summer of 1966 and left for there in late August.
After serving in the 25th Infantry Division as a platoon leader and engaging in a significant amount of jungle combat, he became the battalion S2 intelligence officer.
After taking a vacation with his wife in the spring of 1967, Chase made the decision to leave the Army at the conclusion of his tour. He then applied to the MBA program at Harvard Business School and was accepted into the fall class of 1967.
"Curt never made it to Harvard," Quinn recalled in his essay. "He died in the service of his country on May 6, 1967, in Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam, in a helicopter accident" at the age of 23 and is buried in High Street Cemetery.
The playground at PRS, Chase Field, was later named in his honor. "His smiling face, along with the other five Hinghamites who died in Vietnam, greets you as you enter the front entrance of Town Hall," Quinn noted. "We will never know what these people could have accomplished had they lived, but I am sure Curt's accomplishments would have been significant. Multiply what would have been the accomplishments of thousands of Americans' lives lost in unnecessary wars, and the cost to the nation becomes incalculable."