Louis John Christensen never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on April 2, 1918 in Minnesota. His parents Peter and Genevieve were born in Iowa and Sweden, respectively. His father's parents were from Denmark. His father worked as a railroad roundhouse laborer and later as a farmer. His mother died when Louis was nine years old and his father died when he was thirteen years old. Louis had an older brother and sister and two younger brothers. By 1940 Louis had completed two years of high school and was working as a laborer while living with his married older brother.
He became a private in the 1st Special Services Force. This elite American-Canadian commando unit was created in the summer of 1942 with a goal to be deployed in winter combat, likely in Norway. The Americans in this unit were all volunteers but they joined up not knowing any details about the unit, only being told it was a parachute unit. The men were trained to fight behind enemy lines and worked on specialized skills like skiing, rock climbing, and demolitions. While in the midst of training, Pvt. Christensen married Joan Marjorie Meyer on January 2, 1943 at Ft Harrison, Montana where his unit was in training. They would have one daughter.
The 1st SSF's first combat assignment in July 1943 was to retake the Alaskan island of Kiska from the Japanese, but the enemy withdrew before it happened. It was next sent to fight in the Italian mountains in November 1943.
On December 2, it was assigned the task of capturing Monte La Difensa, which the Germans used to direct artillery fire on the Allied positions below. They advanced up shear vertical cliffs that the Germans considered impregnable and surprised and defeated the enemy within hours. They next took Monte La Remetenae between December 6 and 9. Pvt. Christensen was killed during this attack on December 7, 1943. The 1st SSF would lose 77 percent of their men during a series of winter mountain attacks, including 100 KIA or MIA. It would earn the Devil's Brigade nickname during the Battle of Anzio.
The 1968 historically inaccurate movie The Devil's Brigade was based on the La Difensa assault.
His grave is at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Friesland, Minnesota. His widow remarried and died in 1969. I don't know what happened to his daughter.
Last year on this date I profiled B-24 photo recon pilot Loren Barstow. You can read about Loren Barstow here.
On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!
I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.
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