Arthur George Christensen
Colonel, United States Army
Arthur George Christensen, 88, a retired Army Colonel and urban renewal official, died of complications from a blood infection January 21, 2004, at Georgetown University Hospital.
Colonel Christensen was born in State College, New Mexico, and graduated from what is now North Dakota State University. He entered the Army in 1936 and was posted in the Philippines, first as an infantry officer and then as a cryptologic officer until the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Within eight hours, the Japanese attacked the Philippines. During the four-month defense of Bataan, Colonel Christensen was a liaison officer coordinating operations until his capture behind enemy lines the day before the general surrender of the U.S. forces.
Colonel Christensen survived the Bataan Death March and 31/2 years in prisoner of war camps. In 1944, he and 350 other prisoners were evacuated from the Philippines in the cargo hold of a Japanese ship, one of the last to depart without being sunk by Allied aircraft, whose pilots were unaware that POWs were aboard. At the Japanese surrender, he was commander of a POW camp in northern Japan.
He wrote in a 2002 letter to the editor of The Washington Post, correcting a writer's reference: "The last use of mounted cavalry in a U.S. military campaign occurred in World War II in the defense of the Philippines, where the U.S. 26th Cavalry gallantly resisted the advance of overwhelming Japanese forces in the withdrawal to Bataan. After their mission had been completed, their horses provided food to the starving forces on Bataan."
After recovering from his wartime experiences, he did graduate work at Vanderbilt University, served on the Army's intelligence staff in the Pentagon and served in Austria.
His final assignment before retirement was as commander of a training regiment at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Among his decorations were the Silver Star for gallantry in action on Bataan and the Legion of Merit. He retired from the Army in 1960.
Colonel Christensen moved to Severna Park and went to work for the Urban Renewal Corp. of Baltimore in the relocation of families from substandard housing, the renovation of downtown Baltimore and the development of the Inner Harbor until 1970. He was a real estate broker as an avocation.
In 2000, he and his wife moved to Collington Episcopal Life Care Community in Mitchellville.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Sara
Ryan Christensen; a son, Allen Christensen of Bowie; three daughters, Nona
Ballard of Seattle, Elaine Gates of Naples, Fla., and Carol Christensen
of Severna Park; nine grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
Posted: 17 April 2004 Updated: 14 September 2005