Howard J. “Christenson, Captain USMC, Retired
1943 – 1975
Chris enlisted on December 13, 1943. After graduating from Cooks and Bakers School, MCB, San Diego in June 1944, he received orders to MCAD, Miramar. One month later, he boarded a small aircraft carrier that transported aviation personnel to the Marshall Islands. He served with VMF-441, MAG 31 on Rio0Namur Island until February 1945. During this period, MAG 31 squadrons embarked aboard various ships and arrived off the coast of Okinawa on April 2 1945. Marine and Army divisions had landed on the western coast on April 1, 1945 ( April fool’s day).
After offloading drums of aviation fuel from the tank deck of an LST, Chris and other aviation personnel went ashore on D+3. VMF-441 and other MAG 31 squadrons were spaced at various sites along both sides of the Yontan Airfield. In June 1945, MAG 31 relocated to a smaller airfield in the northern portion of Okinawa. As a member of an advance party for MAG 31, Chris was transported to Japan by military aircraft. Before landing near the Yokosuka Naval Base that was designated the occupation site for MAG 31, the pilot circled above several damaged cities that had been bombed. Upon arriving at the Naval Base, the advance party teamed up with Navy Seabees to repair and clean Japanese barracks and other facilities. In December 1945, Chris and other MAG 31 personnel with the most overseas time were transferred to MAG 22 to return stateside with that unit.
Upon re-enlisting, Chris served three years at MCAS El Toro before receiving orders to Cherry Point, NC. Less than two years later, he received orders to Korea in August 1951. While serving with 1st Engineer BN, 1st Marine division he was promoted to MSgt. (E-7) in June 1952. Upon returning to CONIS, Chris was assigned to 1stBn, 6th Marines, 2d MarDiv at Camp Lejeune in September 1952. After completing the Food Service Supervision Enlisted Course on 16 May 1953 at Fort Lee, VA. he served with 2nd Service Bn; Division Food Service Office; and 2d Bn, 2d Marines on a Med. Cruise. He completed numerous military and technical correspondence courses aboard ship. Later, Chris was one of the first five enlisted Marines to complete the Officer Basic, Junior and Senior Courses (course titles changed later) via correspondence from the Extension School, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia. He also completed 11 MCI food service courses and numerous military courses from the Naval War College, and Naval Correspondence Course Center, Scotia, New York. After re-enlisting in December
1955, he served three years with Service Bn, MCB, Camp Lejeune before receiving orders to the 1st Marine Brigade at Kaneohe, Hawaii. After three years, he received orders to the 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton and served with the Division Schools at Camp Horno.
As his tour in Hawaii did not count as duty overseas, Chris volunteered to go to Okinawa with 1st Bn, 1st Marine regiment. Upon reaching Okinawa, the Battalion became 1st Bn, 9th Marines. he was appointed Warrant Officer while that battalion was on its Afloat Phase with the 7th Fleet. Chris returned to Okinawa and completed his overseas tour with the 3rd Marine Division Food service Office. He received orders to MCB Camp Pendleton and became the Base Mess Administrator for three years. His next duty assignment included two years as OIC, East Coast Food Management Team
after being commissioned a 2ndLt. Later, as the Base Mess Administrator, MCB Camp Lejeune, Chris was promoted to 1stLt. After becoming a Captain, he also served as CO, HqCo, H&S Bn, MCB, Camp Lejeune before receiving orders to Vietnam where he was the Food Service Officer, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. Returning to the States, Chris served as the Base food Service Officer, MCB, Camp Lejeune. Three years later, he became the Food service Officer, 2d Marine Division. With three children in college, he requested to serve beyond the normal 30-year retirement as a CWO-4. When his extension was approved, he became OIC of the East Coast Food Management Team for the second time and retired on December 1, 1975 at the grade of captain.
After retirement, Chris completed his undergraduate studies ( cum laude) in December 1978 and obtained a Master Degree in Administrative Service (Public Admin) in August 1980. While employed as a Civil Service (GS-11) Food Service Specialist at the Food service School, Camp Lejeune, he received his Doctoral Degree in Education in 1986. He taught government and history courses for Campbell University at Camp Lejeune for 13 years. Chris currently teaches government courses for Coastal Carolina Community College.
Chris and his wife Pearl are Charter Members of the Marine Corps Food Service Association.
The Christenson’s made their retirement home in Jacksonville, NC.