Audubon County

Lt. Dale E. Christensen

Medal of Honor

 

HIGHEST HONOR TO BE PAID TO GRAY OFFICER
Congressional Medal of Honor to Be Given Dale E. Christensen

WASHINGTON (AP)—The first Congressional Medal of Honor of this war to be presented an Iowan will be awarded posthumously Friday to 2nd Lt. Dale Eldon Christensen of Gray, who ordered his men to remain under cover while he crept forward alone in the face of intense fire to silence a Japanese machinegun.

The War Department announced that the medal would be presented the lieutenant’s father, Chris P. Christensen, also of Gray, at a ceremony at Fort Riley, Kan.  The officer’s mother and four of his brothers will witness the presentation.

Christensen was killed last Aug. 4, near Afua, Dutch New Guinea, while leading his platoon in an attack on an enemy machinegun position.

The action in which he repeatedly distinguished himself occurred along the Driniumor river in New Guinea in four days of fighting from July 16 to July 19, 1944.

Silences Enemy Guns.
When the Iowan found his cavalry platoon suffering severe casualties from the short-range fire of an effectively placed Japanese machinegun on July 18, he wormed his way forward to within throwing distance, stood erect and silenced the gun with hand grenades.

Again the next day, while his platoon was drawing heavy fire, Christensen ordered the men to remain in their foxholes while he located the enemy automatic weapons and devised a plan for attack, the War Department related.

Moving under a hail of lead, his rifle shot from his hands, the lieutenant located five machinegun nests and destroyed one with hand grenades.

Returning to his platoon, he organized and led an assault on the other enemy positions, which resulted in their destruction and the capture of four mortars and 10 machineguns.  Later the same day, Christensen again braved withering enemy fire to go to the aid of a fellow officer, who lay badly wounded far ahead of the lines.

Born on a Farm.
The lieutenant was born on a farm near Gray, Iowa.  Following his graduation from Gray high school in 1937, he worked as a hatchery clerk in this home town and later went to Los Angeles, Calif., where he became an ambulance driver.

He enlisted in the Army Oct. 15, 1940, at Fort McArthur, Calif., and received his basic training in a medical detachment on that post.  Christensen was transferred to Camp Grant, Ill., as a corporal, became a drill instructor and later rose to the grade of first sergeant.

The Iowan received his officer candidate training in Australia and was commissioned in the infantry Jan. 25, 1944, later being transferred to the cavalry.

He was the youngest in a family of seven boys, one of whom, Lyle, has been serving with the 3rd army in the European theater.

The four brothers who will attend the ceremony are Nelson Christensen, Manning, Ia.; Carl Christensen, Gray; Lloyd Christensen, North Hollywood, Calif.; and Ralph Christensen, Chatsworth, Calif.  The other brother Roy Christensen, also lives at Chatsworth.

Source: Council Bluffs Nonpareil, May 14, 1945

NOTES:

2nd Lt. Christensen was buried at the American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila City, the Philippines; Plot A-12-200.

2nd Lt. Dale Eldon Christensen's Congressional Medal of Honor is proudly on display in the Audubon County Iowa Courthouse. The Veteran of Foreign Wars Post in Audubon is named after him.

Source:
iowahistory.org/museum/exhibits/medal-of-honor/

~Compiled  by Sharon R. Becker