Seventy-five years ago this week, Dale Christensen, born in Iowa, lost his life in what is now Papua New Guinea, not far from Aitape. It happened during the Battle of Driniumor River, which took place between July 10 and August 25, 1944. The Medal of Honor citation says that he died in Dutch New Guinea, but that seems to be an error.
He had asked that the following letter be sent to his parents in the event of his death:
This is one letter which I hope you never get but I feel as though I must write it. In all probability we will go into action early tomorrow and while I cannot imagine that anything will happen to me, I have been in the army too long not to know that anything can happen.
In case I am killed you will eventually get this and you will know I was thinking of you. As yet I’m not afraid and while I probably will be as nervous as the next person, I WOULDN’T BACK OUT OF THIS IF I HAD THE CHANCE.
I want you to know that I have appreciated everything you have ever done for me and that I couldn’t have had a better father and mother. The ways that you have taught me have always been for the good.
I couldn’t have asked for a better life because I feel like I have lived as I wished. The four years that I have been in the army I do not feel have been wasted.
I have a savings account at the Security First National bank, Fiagueros and Adams branch, Los Angeles, Cal., Account No. 18131. This is in addition to the bonds that you have, some bonds at Washington, D. Co. and the six months gratuity which you will get if I am killed will all go to you according to the will of mine that you have.
If you do not need it I wish you would use it to help Raymond, Doris, Nelson and Carl (brothers and sister) to get a little more education than they can get in high school. I only wish it were more but it will be around $2,000.
There is little more that I can say.
I visited Aitape in 2017, and in July 2019 visited the Manila American Cemetery where Dale and some 17,000 other military personnel killed in the war are buried.
For more about Dale Christensen: