Dale Eldon Christensen

Taken from the 1981 Gray Centennial book
Dale E. Christensen was born May 31, 1920, the son of Chris and Sadie (Forsbeck) Christensen.
He enlisted in the U.S. Medical Corps in October of 1940 and was stationed at Fort McArthur, San Pedro, California. In 1941 he went to medical school in Rockford, Illinois, then was transferred to Camp Callan, California. In April 1942, he was sent to Australia to school.
He was commissioned a Lieutenant in 1943 and served overseas in Australia, New Britain and New Guinea.

Dale died in the service of his country in New Guinea on August 4, 1944. The Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously to his parents at Fort Riley, Kansas on May 18, 1945.

The Audubon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4119 was named the Dale Christensen VFW Post.
The Congressional Medal of Honor, the certificate, the award citation, and his picture are permanently displayed in a case in the lobby of the Audubon County Courthouse.
This dedication took place in 1972 with Nelson Christensen and Carl Christensen, his brothers, in attendance.
Dale attended school at Cameron Center. He graduated from Gray High School in 1937. He was active in 4-H and worked on his parents' farm until 1939, when he acquired a position with Goodhew Ambulance Company in California and was employed there until enlistment in the service.

Dale Christensen in country school in 1930.

Cameron Center #5 country school in Audubon county.

Back left to right: Ina Jordan, Frances Stewart, Lois Stewart, Glen Fancher, Olive Fancher, Ethel Lacy, Dale Christensen, Elaine Stewart, ? Murray
Front left to right: Claudia Stewart, Marjorie Murray, Marjorie Garmire (teacher & sister to Sam Garmire WWII veteran), Roy Jordan, Ray Jordan, Violet Fancher

Robert Hansen (of Gray) remembers as a young school boy that Dale Christensen came to the Gray School one day and talked about his training and experiences in the military.
This was shortly before Dale headed overseas and was killed in action.

Manning Monitor article------ 1944

Lt. Dale. Christensen, "One Man Army" Killed In Action

Following is a newspaper clipping describing action in New Guinea in which Lt. Dale Christensen, son of Mr. and Mrs. Chris Christensen of Gray, Iowa, took part.
The family at Gray received notice from the Government on August 22nd that Dale had been killed in action.

New Guinea (CTPS) (Delayed)
The headquarters of barely 150 men was four hundred yards behind Afua, a little native village seven miles inland from the beach on the Driniumor river in British New Guinea. When the Japs crossed the river and took Afua, the headquarters was encircled.
Lt. Dale Christensen, Gray, Iowa, became a one-man army.
Single-handed he attacked a machine gun, grenaded it into silence. He scouted the entire defense line. Once a sniper shot his rifle from his hands.

When he returned he had spotted four other gun nests. He organized an attack and cleaned the entire perimeter. Then he discovered there was not four guns but eight, plus two heavy machine guns and four mortars.
A mortar burst injured the commander and the small patrol sneaked him through the lines to the coast.

For two days the Japs pecked away. Late the second afternoon six men from the river defense line, led by Capt. John Carter, New Orleans, came within two hundred yards of headquarters before they were pinned down. It took Lt. Franklin Rogers, Omaha, and 18 more men to get them out.

Carter's mission was accomplished. Artillery from the beach planned to shell the headquarters area. Carter got close enough to determine that headquarters was still there. Jap mortars burst in headquarters and 18 men were hurt. In ankle-deep mud a doctor amputated one leg.

A major decided to try to pull out through the hills inland and then circle back to the coast. Bearing the injured in litters, they didn't advance three hundred yards before they found their way blocked by the Japs. They spent the night on a ridge and the next day returned to their old headquarters.

Late that afternoon the headquarters men heard firing. They prepared for a last stand. But instead of Japs it was six hundred American infantrymen. They all set to work strengthening the perimeter.
Backtracking on the infantry, Lt. Lawrence Treptow, Villa Park, Ill., took a patrol to the beach with the wounded. Next day the infantry tried to push on but found the Jap encirclement had reformed and they were tied in.
So more pillbox building went on.

Within a week as other infantrymen were approaching up the river, the Japs began suicide attacks on the infantry-reinforced headquarters.
For three nights in a row they attacked, just before dawn. It was good shooting for everyone.

Each day more than one hundred Japs were buried within 20 yards of our lines. That was as far out as the men ventured.
But after the third attack the Japs had spent their force. Soon they retreated. A native train of carriers arrived with supplies.

We wish to express our sincere thanks to al those who sent cards and letters of sympathy relative to the death of our son Lt. Dale E. Christensen. Our burden has been lightened greatly by these kind expressions. Mr. and Mrs. Chris Christensen

Manning Monitor article------ 1945

Medal of Honor Posthumously to Lt. Dale Christensen of Gray.
The medal of honor, the nation's highest decoration of valor, was awarded posthumously to Lt. Dale E. Christensen, 24, during a retreat parade at the cavalry school at Ft. Riley, Kan., recently.
Attended by the parents and family of Lt. Christensen, the medal was presented to the father, Chris P. Christensen, by Maj. Gen. William M. Grimes, commandant, the cavalry school.

Lt. Christensen, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Chris P. Christensen of Gray, Iowa, was killed in New Guinea Aug. 4, 1944 while in action, with the 112th cavalry regiment. Mrs. Louise K. Haslup, senior hostess of the C. R. T. C. service club, formerly taught at the high school Lt. Christensen attended.
She recalls that the late lieutenant was the kind of student "always taking a chance," and a popular fellow among his classmates.

Highest Military Award for Dead Iowan

Posthumously Given Medal of Honor.
From The Register's washington, Bureau

Lt. Dale E. Christensen. "conspicuous Gallantry"
A Congressional Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously to Lt. Dale E. Christensen of Gray, Ia., will be received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Chris P. Christensen of Gray Friday at Fort Riley, Kansas.
The medal is the first decoration of its kind to be won by an Iowa resident in this war and will bespeak to the Christensens the heroic and unselfish qualities they knew their son possessed.

The Citation.
The citation will tell how the lieutenant "repeatedly" distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty - -
But the Christensens will cherish even more deeply letters that Dale wrote them from far off New Guinea expressing gratitude for all they had done for him and revealing his frequent longing to see them again.
One was written a, few weeks before the courageous action which won him the medal and two months before he was killed on Aug. 4, 1944, near Afua, New Guinea.
It was to be mailed by Lieutenant Christensen's commanding officer in the event of the youth's death.

"This is one letter which I hope you never get but I feel as though I must write it," Lieutenant Christensen wrote.
"In all probability we will go into action early tomorrow and while I cannot imagine that anything will happen to me, I have been in the army too long not to know that anything can happen, "Thinking of You."

"In case I am killed you will eventually get this and you will know I was thinking of you. "As yet I'm not afraid and while I probably will be as nervous as the next person, I WOULDN'T BACK OUT OF, THIS IF I HAD THE CHANCE.
"I want you to know that I have appreciated everything you have ever done for me and that I couldn't have had a better father and mother. The ways that you have taught me have always been for the good.

"I couldn't have asked for a better life because I feel like I have lived as I wished. The four years that I have been in the army I do not feel have been wasted.
"I have a savings account at the Security First National bank, Fiagueros and Adams branch, Los Angeles, Cal., Account No. 18131. This is in addition to the bonds that you have, some bonds at Washington, D. Co. and the six months gratuity which you will get if I am killed will all go to you according to the will of mine that you have.

"If you do not need it I wish you would use it to help Raymond, Doris, Nelson and Carl (brothers and sister) to get a little more education than they can get in high school. I only wish it were more but it will be around $2,000.
"There is little more that I can say.
Your son,

A Year Before,
A little more than a year before, on Easter Sunday, 1943; Lieutenant Christensen wrote his mother from New Guinea.
"Another, Easter has rolled around and we are a long way from where we were last year at this time.
"It was just about now, a year ago, that we were making preparations to leave. I knew that we were going to San Francisco and the date we were leaving and that was all.

In New Guinea.
"Now, a year later, I find myself in New Guinea, a place that I hardly knew existed at the time.
"The things that we have seen and been through have been many, some pleasant and most of them not so much so.
"It will in a couple of weeks he Mothers day, AS IF IT NEEDED AN EXTRA SPECIAL DAY FOR ME TO BE THINKING OF YOU. Never more than in the past year have I realized how lucky I have been to have you and Papa for my parents and the things that you have given me are so valuable to me as to be unmeasurable.

Honesty and Trust.
"For example, the honesty that you had such a time getting into me has given me a great satisfaction in that now no one would think of questioning it. I have found that it pays a lot to have people trust one.
"I have looked back many a time and saw the reason for a lot of the things you made me do and would not let me do. I couldn't see why at the time but a thousand and one things have happened since that have shown me where I was wrong.

"I'm glad that you didn't force me to stay at home. For one thing, I wasn't cut out to be a farmer. I never could have been satisfied there. Then again it gave me a chance to make my own mistakes and find out myself.
"I have made a lot of mistakes but I have been happy doing it all. The army has provided me with opportunity and has also let me get a lot of things out of my system. Traveling for instance.

"Never again will I want to see any foreign countries. Trains and boats hold no interest for me anymore. All I ever want now is the chance to live comfortably in a place of my own choosing. I think I have knocked around just about enough.

In the Hospital

"I have been sick quite a bit in the last year and a half. I have been in the hospital five times and it makes me realize that I must take better care of myself. I have always been so darned healthy that I never realized I could overdo anything. Many a time I have wished and known that IF I COULD ONLY BE HOME EVERYTHING WOULD BE ALL RIGHT.

"I know you must worry about me, especially when I am so far away from home, but I wish that you wouldn't. If there is anything wrong I will let you know.
"This is all for now and I want you to know that I am thinking of you and maybe before another year goes by I'll be home.
"Love, "Your son, Dale."

The Last Letter.

A little more than three weeks after Lieutenant Christensen had written the letter that was to be mailed only in event of death, his company was engaged along the Drinimuor river in New Guinea. It was there that he won the Congressional Medal of Honor. The citation describes it as "continuous and heavy fighting from July 16 to July 19, 1944," and continues:
"On July 16, his platoon engaged in a savage fire fight in which much damage was caused by one enemy machine gun effectively placed.
"Lieutenant Christensen ordered his men to remain under cover, crept forward under fire, and at a range of 15 yards put the gun out of action with hand grenades.
"Again on July 19, while attacking an enemy position strong in mortars and machine guns, his platoon was pinned to the ground by intense fire.
Ordering his men to remain under cover, HE CREPT FORWARD ALONE to locate definitely the enemy automatic weapons and the best direction from which to attack.
"Although his rifle was struck by enemy fire and knocked from his hands be continued his reconnaissance, located five enemy machine guns, destroyed one with hand grenades and rejoined his platoon. "He then led his men to the point selected for launching the attack and, calling encouragement, led the charge. This assault was successful and the enemy was driven from the position with a loss of four mortars and 10 machine guns, and leaving many dead on the field."

Lieutenant Christensen was born May 31, 1920, in Cameron township of Audubon county near Gray. He was the youngest of seven brothers: Nelson Christensen, farmer near Manning, Ia.; Carl, farmer at Gray; Pfc. Lyle Christensen, with the U. S. 3rd Army in Germany; Roy and Ralph, farmers at Chatsworth, Cal., and Lloyd, a Lockheed employee at Burbank, Cal.
Lieutenant Christensen attended Cameron Center country school and the Gray consolidated school, then worked on his father's farm and was active in 4-H club work until he went to California in 1939. He was a star player on the Gray basketball team,

Worked Himself Up.
He enlisted in the army in California on Oct. 15, 1940, and worked his way up through the ranks to become a first sergeant shortly before he went overseas in 1942. He earned his commission as second lieutenant of infantry at an officers candidate school in Australia in January, 1944. He was not married.

The medal of honor will be presented to Mr. and Mrs. Christensen by Maj. Gen. William M. Grimes, commandant of the Fort Riley Cavalry school, at ceremonies to be attended by four of the brothers; Nelson, Carl, Lloyd and Ralph Christensen and by high ranking officers of the army ground forces.

Only two other Iowa-born soldiers have won the nation's highest award for heroism during World War II, but neither was a resident of the state, according to war department records. Capt. Arlo L. Olson, born at Greenville, Ia., is carried on army records as a resident of Baton Rouge, La., and Lt. Paul F. Riordan, born at Charles City, lived at Kansas City, Mo., when he entered the army.
Dale is the first Iowan to whom the nation's highest military award has been made in World War II.

This picture, taken on New Britain in 1944, shows Lieutenant Christensen and his pal, Lieutenant McCracken, also of Troop E, 112th Cavalry Regiment, with Kanoi, native police boy.

The posthumous award of the Congressional Medal of Honor will be received this week by parents of Lt. Dale E. Christensen. Dale (at extreme right) was about 6 when this picture was taken.