LANCE CORPORAL CURTIS ALLEN CHRISTENSEN JR., formerly of Collingswood, died in a non-hostile incident while serving in Iraq on January 10, 2008.
|Camden Courier-Post - January 14, 2008|
Marine with ties to Collingswood dies in Iraq
A Marine who once lived in this borough has lost his life in Iraq, officials said Monday.
Lance Cpl. Curtis Alan Christensen Jr., 29, died in combat Friday in Ramadi, a city in western Iraq, said Lt. Col. James Garcia, a spokesman for the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Christensen's mother lives in South Jersey, said Garcia, who offered no additional information Monday night. Other details about Christensen's ties to this area were not available.
"The family has told the casualty assistance coordinator that they're not interested in much press on this," said Garcia.
Christensen was the 27th service member with ties to South Jersey to die in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The Defense Department on Monday had not yet released an official notice of Christensen's death, which would contain information about his military background.
Services for the Marine were to be arranged by Hinski-Tomlinson Funeral Home of Haddonfield.
|Camden Courier-Post - January 16, 2008|
Mother recalls dedication of slain Marine
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.
|Camden Courier-Post - January 19, 2008|
Fallen soldier lives on in cherished memories
Thoughts of Curtis Alan Christensen Jr. seemed to warm mourners on a chilly Friday morning.
They remembered him as he was, fun-loving and caring, and honored him for what he had become, a Marine who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Christensen, 29, formerly of Collingswood, died in Ramadi, Iraq, Jan. 10 in what the Department of Defense said was a nonhostile incident.
Friends and family filtered into Bible Presbyterian Church here Friday to pay last respects to a guy his mother said never did anything without fully committing to it.
"My final words to him, and I'm very thankful for this, I thanked him for his service to the country," said Kim Boettcher, 48, of Cherry Hill, a friend of Christensen's mother, Mary Knight. "It was this past Fourth of July at the parade in Haddonfield."
Boettcher said Christensen told her "it was his privilege."
It seemed everyone had a story about him.
"He was a kind-hearted person," said Casey Rowe, 37, a homemaker from Gloucester Township who met Christensen more than a decade ago when he was a roadie for a local band. "A great spirit. He became not only my friend, but my family."
Rowe glowed when she remembered how Christensen always looked out for everyone else.
"That's one of the reasons he went to fight for our country," Rowe said. "He thought that was the right thing to do for us. He was a hero for us then and he's our hero now."
Rowe and other friends of the band, Monster Island, came together again for their friend Curtis.
"I was devastated when I found out," Jeanine Werz, 37, of Pennsauken, said. "He was so young I never in a million years thought something would happen to him, of all the people."
Jacquelyn Dixon and Judith Tapper, both mothers who recently lost sons in war zones, also came to comfort the family. Both belong to the Gold Star Mothers group of parents who have lost children in war.
"We share their grief," said Dixon of Lindenwold, whose son Anthony died Aug. 1, 2004, in Iraq. "It does bring back a lot of memories, but it helps that we can be of support to somebody else; not focus so much on ourselves but on them."
"We're here to help them carry on and support them," said Tapper of Waterford, whose son David died in Afghanistan Aug. 20, 2003.
"I just needed people around me on that day," Dixon said. "My husband was so devastated he couldn't even attend the funeral. I just kept looking around for people I thought should be there. It meant so much to see their faces. It means so much to have people around you."
Outside the church, an honor guard of about a dozen veterans lined the entrance with flags. Many of the vets from a group called the Patriot Guard had motorcycles lined up to later lead the way to the burial at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden. The two-mile route down Haddon Avenue included two fire trucks with an enormous flag draped from extended ladders high over the road.
Christensen is survived by his wife, Olga, of Washington, D.C.; mother, Mary Knight and her husband, David, of the Chatsworth section of Woodland; brother Michael Christensen; stepsisters Hope Knight of Collingswood and Leslie Knight of Evesham..
|Camden Courier-Post - January 16, 2008|
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