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Burton Paul Christenson
Nickname -"Pat"
-"Chris"
-"Burt"
Born (1922-08-24)August 24, 1922
Died December 30, 1998(1998-12-30) (aged 76)
Place of birth Oakland, California, United States
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1942-1945
Rank US Army WWII TSGTTechnical Sergeant
Unit 506 patch Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment,
US 101st Airborne Division patch101st Airborne Division
Battles/wars

World War II

Relations - Gary Van Linge (nephew)
- Chris Christenson (son)
- Tim Christenson (son)

Technical Sergeant Burton Paul Christenson (August 24, 1922 - December 30, 1998[1]) was a non-commissioned officer with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army during World War II. Christenson was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Michael Fassbender. Christenson's life story was featured in the 2010 book A Company of Heroes: Personal Memories about the Real Band of Brothers and the Legacy They Left Us.

YouthEdit

Christenson graduated from Castlemont, a high school in Oakland and worked for the Pacific Telephone company before he enlisted at the age of twenty.[2]

Military ServiceEdit

Christenson was one of the 140 original Toccoa men of Easy Company. He was trained in Toccoa, Georgia under Captain Herbert Sobel. Christensen was physically tough. He was one of the top five scorers in physical competition in Toccoa.[3] While Christenson was very athletic, he was also very artistic. He never studied art formally, but he loved to draw. He even carried with him a sketch pad to war.[4] He also could play piano and sing. He and fellow Easy Company members Carl Sawosko and Coburn Johnson used to sing with a guitar during service.[5]

Christenson was a machine gunner and made his first combat jump in June 6, 1944 into Normandy as part of the Operation Overlord. He was on the same plane as Richard D. Winters and jumped right after him.[6] He lost much of his equipment during the jump. He crashed down an apple trunk and landed on an apple orchard.[7] Christenson quickly found his assistant gunner, Private Woodrow Robbins, and almost shot him, because Robbins failed to respond to the password and cricket challenge.[8] He spent the rest of the Normandy campaign as a grenadier.[9]

Christenson made another jump into the Netherlands for Operation Market Garden in September 17, 1944. He was the squad leader. Christenson wrote extensively about the battle in Nuenen. When Easy Company was entering Nuenen, Christenson saw two Germans come out of a window and move across a roof. He pointed his submachine gun at them but the gun did not fire. He had to field-strip the gun right there.[10] Christenson also fought in the action to defend the Island. In the Netherlands campaign, fellow Easy Company members Robert Van Klinken and William Dukemen were killed, and Christenson was shaken up greatly.[11]

Christenson also fought in Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. Like many of the men there, Christenson was sleep-deprived and exhausted. Once, he heard shrapnel coming in during an artillery attack, but was too exhausted even to move his arm, and his arm was hit. He did not want a purple heart for the wound because he thought that compared to the death of his friends, the wound was nothing.[12] Later, He was evacuated to a hospital due to frozen foot.[13]

Christenson returned to his unit for occupation duties in Germany and Austria. He stayed with it until the end of the war, and attained the position of Technical Sergeant.[12]

Later lifeEdit

Christenson returned to the States in Fall 1945.[12] He married Mary Jo Bonham in 1947, and had three sons.[14] He returned to the phone company and worked there until his retirement in 1977. He rose to the management, but hated the new role, so he decided to go back into the field with a cut in pay.[15] Christenson started one of the first public gymnasiums in Oakland,[14] and also did professional landscaping on the side from 1967-1987.[16]

Mary died in 1997 of liver cancer, and Christenson was devastated by her death. His health also started to deteriorate. He had aneurysm, a ministroke and colon cancer, which he recovered from.[17] Then he was discovered to have lung cancer, and refused surgery because he might end up on a ventilator.[18] He died on December 30, 1998.

Band of BrothersEdit

Christenson was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Michael Fassbender.

In the first episode of the miniseries, Currahee, Christenson was shown drinking water from his canteen against order during a night march and was punished by Captain Sobel. Christenson's family doubted If it happened, as Christenson was physically tough. Later they asked his fellow comrades about this, and their replies were 'Not to Christenson'.[19]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Brotheron
  2. p.72, Brotherton
  3. p.30, Winters
  4. Burton "Pat" Christenson's Perspective on Art
  5. p.71, Brotherton
  6. p.74, Brotherton
  7. p.75, Brotherton
  8. Chapter 5, Ambrose
  9. p.76, Brotherton
  10. p.79, Brotherton
  11. p.82, Brotherton
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 p.85, Brotherton
  13. p.84, Brotherton
  14. 14.0 14.1 p.86, Brotherton
  15. p.87, Brotherton
  16. p.86-87, Brotherton
  17. p.88, Brotherton
  18. p.89, Brotherton
  19. p.72. Brotherton

BibliographyEdit

  • Ambrose, Stephen E. (1992). Band of Brothers: Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7434-6411-6. 
  • Brotherton, Marcus (2010). A Company of Heroes: Personal Memories about the Real Band of Brothers and the Legacy They Left Us. Berkley Caliber. ISBN 978-0-425-23420-4. 
  • Winters, Major Dick, with Cole C. Kingseed. Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters. 

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