Curtis was born in 1984 and grew up near Arlington, Virginia. He grew in a military family and had an appreciation and interest in military service from a young age. Curtis originally joined the Marine Corps with the intention of working as an aviation crew chief but then switched to the infantry occupation field.
After Parris Island and training at Camp Geiger, earning the 0311 MOS, Curtis joined Kilo 3/6 in 2003. Curtis first deployed to Afghanistan, operating in Asadabad and Gardaz, in 2004. Upon his return, he was selected to join Scout/Sniper Platoon, working as a radio operator, and deployed to Al Qaim, Iraq. Curtis again returned to Kilo Company, this time as a squad leader. He deployed near Husaybah, Iraq for a final deployment as a line platoon squad leader.