Stanley Christensen: Mr. Milquetoast or Captain America?

StanleyChristensen 200STAlogo 541My dad would refer to him as "Mr. Milquetoast". In other words, "a timid, unassertive person who is easily dominated or intimidated". We all knew Stanley Christensen, a mechanic for the John Deere dealership, as a very quiet and kind man. You know the type, StanleyChristensenCitation 200someone who "wouldn't hurt a flea". Well, apparently there weren't any fleas on Omaha Beach at about 6:10 am on June 6, 1944 when Stanley's foot hit the sand, just German soldiers armed to the teeth with machine guns and artillery.

No one would have ever known anything about what follows had not one of Stanley's nephews found a single page citation in his personal effects after his death.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty ... Technician Fifth Grade Stanley J. Christensen boldly rushed one pillbox and fired into the embrasure and with his weapon, keeping the enemy pinned down single handedly until he was in position to hurl a grenade and then running to the rear of the emplacement to destroy the retreating Germans and enable his platoon to take OmahaBeach 300its objective. Again pinned down at the foot of the hill, he dauntlessly scaled the jagged incline under fierce mortar and machine gun barrage and with the assistance of his automatic riflemen, charged the crest of the hill, firing from his hip. Fighting furiously against enemy troops attacking with grenades and knee mortars from reverse slopes, he stood fearlessly erect in his exposed position to cover the hostile entrenchments, and held the hill under savage fire for fifteen minutes, killing sixty Germans before his ammunition was exhausted and his platoon was able to join him.

The citation was from Major General Omar S. Bradley, Commander of the Fourth Infantry Division, United States Army - June 10, 1944.

I wish I had been able to visit with Stanley about that historic day in 1944. I wonder what I might have learned about ordinary people rising to the occasion in the face of incalculable odds. I wonder what Stanley learned about himself that day. Mr. Milquetoast...I think not...Captain America, perhaps.