News | Jan. 24, 2018

Celebrating 100 years of long and faithful life

By Capt. Denise Hauser 940th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Reserve Citizen Airman of the Air Force Reserve's 940th Air Refueling Wing from Beale Air Force Base, California were invited to the Oakmont of Carmichael Assisted Living Facility to celebrate the 100th birthday of retired Air Force pilot Col. Einer “Chris” Christensen, a World War II, Korean and Vietnam War Veteran.

Col. Miles Heaslip, 940th Operations Group Commander, presented Christensen with a Certificate of Recognition for his birthday, along with some other Air Force mementos for his keeping.

“Thank you for coming today to celebrate with me,” said Christensen with a smile. “I retired from the Air Force because they made me. If it was my choice, I would still be serving.”

Christensen was born Jan. 15, 1918 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended local schools in that area and graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Drexel.

In 1940, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps as a lieutenant. He was first stationed at Chanute Field, Illinois. This followed with an assignment in January 1942 to the U.S. Air Transport and Ferry Command and served with these two units throughout World War II. He ferried various types of bombers to war fronts.

From there Christensen became part of the crew of the Independence, the presidential plane that is now Air Force One. This assignment lasted throughout President Harry Truman’s term ending in 1953. Christensen is the last known survivor of this crew, and was on board the day Truman relieved Gen. Douglas MacArthur of his command during the Korean War.

His other service includes the Chief of War planning with the 14th Air Force “Flying Tiger” Fighter Squadron in China. He flew numerous flights to Australia covering the South Pacific, North Atlantic to England, South Atlantic to North Africa by way of Brazil, and an around the world tour inspecting the various air transport command facilities. He also spent two and a half years assigned to NATO in Naples, Italy.

Christensen retired as a colonel with 24 years of service from the U.S. Air Force in 1964 with over 6,000 flying hours. He then moved to California where he has lived since.

When Heaslip asked Christensen what advice he could give to young people joining the military today, he responded with, “Do the best you can at everything you do. Don’t be afraid to take a stand for what you believe in. If you like what you are doing and you are proud of it, then you will succeed.”

Christensen added, “But most of all, make good friends along the way. Look at me, I am 100 years old and I have a room full of friends standing around me. I get many hugs and kisses every day. That’s what life is all about.”

At the end of his celebration, Christensen thanked his guests for coming by saying, “You’ve brightened my day today and given me the strength to keep going.”

Heaslip concluded the party by saying, “The reason we are able to do today what we do in the military is because of what you all have done for us. You have paved the way for us. And we thank you.”