HMC Joseph (Jay) Kurator 

Memorial Page

USS Surfbird Crewmember 1966-1969

Passed away on 8 November 2009

2003 Reunion 



If you knew Chief Kurator and would like to add your comments to this page, please do so below:

Information Provided by Chief Kurator's Family

Wife: Yasuko, married in 1959
Children: Kenneth, Joey, Terimarie
Grandchildren: Michael, Kevin, Laney, Thomas
                       Joshua & Jeremy.
Daughter-in-laws: Susan Hansen, Susan Kirkman

Born:  Joliet, IL (Dec 1, 1934)
Raised in Gary, IN
Mother: Anna Gonda
Father: Steven Kurator
Preceded in death by:
   Two brothers, Steven and Edward
   Three sisters, Maryanne, Agnes, and Elizabeth
Golden Glove Boxer as teenager. 13-3 record.

Joined Navy at 17 after graduating from HS 1954
Trained as a Corpsman

Duty assignments included:
* Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland where he
   had an opportunity to meet President Dwight
   Eisenhower and First Lady Mamie
* Served four tours in Vietnam (which included a
   short assignment as a medic with the Green
   Berets and an assignment with a CIA-run unit
   whose activities he has never revealed due to
   its classified nature, even to his own family).
* USS Surfbird, 1966 to 1969
* USS Okinawa LPH-3 (Last Duty Assignment)

Retired from Navy as Chief Petty Officer (E7)
in 1974

Upon retirement from the Navy, attended California
State University, Los Angeles and received a
Bachelor Degree in Nursing

Received a Registered Nursing License

Worked at Pioneer Hospital in Pediatrics ward.

Worked at State of California, California Youth
Authority at the Fred C Nelles Youth Correctional
Facility in Whittier and for the Department of
Mental Health at Metropolitan State Hospital in

Retired from State service as a Program Director
while at Metropolitan State Hospital in 1999.

Volunteered time at the Retired Activities Office, Seal
Beach Naval Weapons Base.




Although I met Chief Kurator at the 2003 Reunion, I never really had a chance to get to know him well.  However, at all of the reunions since then, his name never fails to come up.  Jay was respected for his knowledge in the medical field, his leadership abilities and his friendship to his shipmates.  He will be missed.  Our sympathy goes out to his family for their loss.

God Bless,

Don & Sharon Gillispie

I remember Chief Kurator when I was on Surfbird from October 1968 till June 1970... He was the best corpsman that I ever met in my twenty-two year navy career...  We were lucky to have a chief in such an important position... I thought he was the kindest & nicest person on the ship; he treated me several times from injuries involving my duty as shipfitter... The navy was fortunate to have a young and good looking person who could have succeeded at any occupation... I truly regret knowing that he is no longer with us, please know that he positively touched the lives of many sailors on Surfbird...


God Bless him forever...

George Spahn


Fresh out of boot camp in 1969 and sent directly to Sasebo and the Surfbird I was the youngest member of the crew. Our first sail was to Jinhae Korea and I remember being horribly sea sick the entire time. I remember boatswain Mason made me wear a bucket around my neck cause I couldn't stop puking. But Chief Jay saved me from that fate... he brought me a sleeve of saltine crackers and told me to eat as many as I could and repeat that any time I felt sea sick. Well needless to say I was never sea sick again and thanks to Cheif Jay and Capt Williams I left the Surfbird for Corps school in San Diego and a whole new career ... thanks Chief

Terry Kovarik