Curtis Alan Christiansen, Jr.
(reprinted from PhillyBurbs.com, January 17, 2008)
Woodland mother mourns death of her Marine son
Integrity, intelligence and fierce independence are just some of the words that his family uses to describe U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Curtis Alan Christensen Jr.
“He was very intelligent. He was a kind and proud man who was fiercely independent,” Mary Knight of Woodland said yesterday about her son.
Christensen, 29, died Friday in a non-hostile incident in Al Anbar province, Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, which is investigating his death.
He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. Christensen was trained as a machine gunner.
“I've been talking to his friends over the last few days and they all say he was a really kind and generous person,” Knight said. “He was the kind of person who would give you the shirt off his back, but he would never take anything in return. He would want to get whatever he had on his own.”
Even as a teenager, Christensen had an independent streak, his mother said.
Instead of finishing up at Delran High School, Christensen decided in his senior year to transfer to the Palmyra Adult School, so he could spend more time working at his two jobs.
Then there were the 1,200 mile hike of the Appalachian Trail and the cross-country trip to California.
While Christensen was an avid outdoorsman, Knight said her son never lost that thirst for knowledge.
“He didn't lose that thing that little kids have... He always wanted to keep learning,” Knight said.
She said Christensen, a former resident of Collin-gswood, taught himself all about computers and even learned to run the “giant sound boards and computerized light systems” for a number of area rock bands.
In 2006, Christensen decided he was going to join the U.S. Marine Corps.
Knight said he told the family during his 28th birthday celebration.
Knight said she knew she couldn't talk her son out of joining the military, so she did what she could do, which was to support her son to the fullest.
“The only thing I could say was, "Curt I'm proud of you,'” Knight said. “It's hard for a mother, knowing what's going on over there.”
While Christensen excelled in boot camp and on the aptitude tests, Knight said her son just wanted to be one of the guys.
“He wanted to be the guy out on the street...,” Knight said. “He didn't want to be the guy sitting at desk working on a computer. He liked being a gunner. He was all about that.”
Christensen joined the Marines in June 2006 and arrived in Iraq in late October last year.
Knight said she really didn't know a lot about what he felt about his duties.
“All I know is he did his duties and he was a good Marine,” Knight said of her son.
In addition to his mother, Mary, and her husband, David Knight, Christensen is survived by his wife, Olga of Washington, D.C.; a brother, Michael; two stepsisters, Hope Knight of Collingswood and Leslie Knight of Evesham; and his maternal uncle, Dr. Frank Meeteer of Haddonfield.
Friends may call at 7 tonight at the Hinksi-Tomlinson Funeral Home, 81 Haddon Ave., Haddonfield. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Bible Presbyterian Church, 1115 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood.
He will be buried with military honors in Harleigh Cemetery in Camden after the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Appalachian Mountain Club, Development Office, 5 Joy St., Boston, Mass., 02108-1490.