1 of only 3 US Aces to claim kills agains all 3 Axis powers, (3 main powers: Germany, Japan & Italy). The ONLY one to shoot down a USAAF plane as well, and definitely the only one to shoot down his girl friendHe was a POW for awhile to boot.
There are a lot of stories out there about Lou, but this one from AcesOfWWII catches it about right;
Lt. Curdes was circling low over one of his P-51 pilots who was bobbing in his dinghy just off Jap field Batan Island. Another pilot whose plane had the lowest gas in his tanks headed for home. A fourth plane was circling at 20,000 feet sending out a distress signal. It had been a fairly good day, as fighter Mission days over Formosa go. Curdes' flight had knocked down two planes over the target, Curdes getting his first Nip since he came to the Pacific from the MTO last December. They had blasted three more on the ground at Batan before flak caught one of his flight. Curdes looked down to the tossing dinghy and figured the chances of a Catalina coming in for a rescue before dark. It was getting along towards mid- afternoon, and the nights come fairly early off northern Luzon in the middle of February. Suddenly, Curdes noticed a black speck coming from the southwest toward a Jap landing strip at Batan. Then the speck became a dead ringer for a C-47. And, as the wheels came down on the transport, Curdes saw the American markings. "Those damned Japs have patched up one of our buggies and didn't even have the grace to take the markings off" Curdes figured as he wheeled about to give the visitor a closer look. Then he read a familiar number on the tail. It was the number of one of the "Jungle Skippers." At this point, the Jap ack-ack, opened up at Curdes’ P-51 but not at the transport. A quick run of thinking convinced Curdes there was only one thing to do since the plane would be Jap property as soon as it landed, if it was not already. The P-51 banked steeply, head on into the flak, and opened up with its fifties on the C-47’s right engine. As the transport headed out to sea, with one engine gone, Curdes made a 180 degree turn and cut loose on the other engine. The C-47 settled into the water within yards of the downed fighter pilot's dinghy. Curdes dived in to do a little strafing after all occupants of the transport climbed aboard life rafts, but he observed in time that the survivors were white. So he went back to his low level circling. His water bound charges had grown from one to thirteen. When darkness fell and still no help had arrived, Curdes figured all would be safe until dawn and returned to his base.Some say he got a DFC for downing that C-47, but that is bad gouge. He has two, but not for that.
The next morning before daylight, he and his wingman took off. And they were circling over the survivors when a rescue Catalina arrived to pick them up. Back at base, Curdes learned that the C-47 had been American manned with 12 occupants including two Army nurses. The pilot had become lost during a flight from Art island in the southern Philippines and had been forced to head for the nearest visible strip because of a fuel shortage. Curdes gave a start and a shout when he glanced at the names of the survivors. One of the nurses was the "date" he had been with the night before at Lingayen.
"Jeepers," He exclaimed, "seven 109's and one Macci in North Africa, one Jap, and one Yank in the Pacific -- and to top it, I have to go out and shoot down the girl friend."
A few weeks' later, Captain Louis E. Curdes of the 4th Fighter Squadron. Third Air Commando Group was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for shooting down a C-47.
Captain Louis E. Curdes was assigned to the 95th Fighter Squadron, 82nd Fighter Group. He was reassigned to the 4th Fighter Squadron, 3rd Air Commando Group (1945) where he flew the P-51), "BAD ANGEL". A Jap flag and U.S. flag were added to the seven German and one Italian markings on the fuselage of his Mustang. Curdes made wheels up forced landing on a beach South of Naples, Italy in August 1943 when he ran low on fuel trying to return to N. Africa. He was interned as a Prisoner of War until October 1943. He escaped twice and evaded capture for about eight months before returning through enemy lines on May 27, 1944.
Retired in 1963 as a LtCol. Good work, good career - GREAT PIC.