Friday, January 11, 2008

Marine Lance Cpl. Curtis A. Christensen Jr.

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Curtis A. Christensen Jr., 29, of Collingswood, N.J.

LCpl Christensen was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Jan. 11, 2008 in a nonhostile incident in Anbar province, Iraq.

Cherry Hill Courier Post -- When Curtis Alan Christensen Jr., formerly of Collingswood, started his hike on the Appalachian Trail a few years ago, he spurned the notion of beginning the trail at a tourist attraction in Georgia.

The real start of the trail, he told his mother, was at the top of a mountain.

So Mary Knight, though afraid of heights, drove her son up a winding, one-lane fire road. About two-thirds of the way up, there was a place to turn around.

"He said, "I'll just walk from here,' " Knight remembered Tuesday. "I mean, he was walking 1,200 miles anyway."

Christensen, a 29-year-old lance corporal in the Marine Corps, died Friday in Ramadi, Iraq. Officials at the Department of Defense Tuesday said Christensen died in a nonhostile incident. An investigation is ongoing.

Knight said her son never did anything without fully committing to it.

If there was ever doubt about that, the trip to Georgia was proof enough.

For four months, beginning on an Easter Sunday, Christensen hiked. He covered 1,200 miles, leaving the trail only because he ran out of money.

"Whatever he would get into," said Knight, of the Chatsworth section of Woodland, "he would really get into."

After years of self-education and several different jobs, Christensen, who attended Delran High School, joined the Marines about a year ago. He told his family about the plans at his 28th birthday party. And like he did before, he dedicated himself to the cause. Six months before boot camp, Christensen stopped smoking and stopped drinking. He ran every day and joined the gym.

It paid off.

Upon graduation, Christensen was presented an award for earning the highest marks in physical training.

"It was probably a good idea," his mother said. "Since he was like the grandfather there."

Christensen, shipped to Iraq in late October, was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C. Christensen, who was married, enlisted as an infantryman in hopes of joining a special operations team similar to the Navy SEALS, Knight said.

She said she's been "preparing" for her son's death, knowing he would be killed.

"You know how sometimes you know? I knew," she said. "The only thing I said to him when he joined was "I'm proud of you.' But I was also sad."

Friends may call at 7 p.m. Thursday at Hinski-Tomlinson Funeral Home, 81 Haddon Ave., Haddonfield. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Bible Presbyterian Church, 115 Haddon Ave., Collingswood. Internment with military honors will be at Harleigh Cemetery, Camden.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his memory to the Appalachian Mountain Club Development Office, 5 Joy St., Boston, Mass.

Marine Lance Cpl. Curtis A. Christensen Jr. died on 1/11/08.

No comments: