William J Christman

Second Lieutenant
United States Marine Corps
10 August 1945 - 22 February 1969
Gaithersburg, Maryland
Panel 32W Line 077


William J Christman

Navy Cross

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for William J Christman

05 Mar 2003

I served with Bill Christman. He was the Honor Man of Platoon 3043, Parris Island SC Nov. 1967. He was a natural leader who led by example and without threat or intimidation. He will always be a true hero especially to those of us who were fortunate enough to serve with him.


From a fellow Marine,
Ron W. Colfry

A Note from The Virtual Wall

In late February 1969 the 1/9 Marines were engaged in Operation DEWEY CANYON at the northern end of the A Shau Valley. Their Command Chronology for February 1969 contains the following commentary:
"An aerial observer reported that there was an [sic] huge bunker complex, covering 6 grid squares, ... at YD197053, and on 22 February Company A returned to attack these complexes. On the fringe of the complex at YD199046 Company A met heavy resistance, killed 105 enemy and suffered 10 killed and 61 wounded."
The Chronology also contains the text of a SPOT report from Company A, which, in paraphrase, reports that at 1300 22 Feb Company A
"Charged on first enemy position with two platoons in assault. Heavy machinegun fire caused me to commit my 4th Platoon. With help of Broncos [OV-10 aircraft] and 81mm mortars moved through and wiped out the first enemy position. Directed air strike and arty against second enemy position."
The SPOT report also states that in addition to inflicting 105 casualties on the NVA a considerable number of weapons and supplies were captured.

The ten men who were killed in the assault described above were

  • 1stLt Lee R. Herron, Lubbock, TX (Navy Cross)
  • 2ndLt William J. Christman, Gaithersburg, MD (Navy Cross)
  • Cpl Richard P. Hodges, Atlanta, GA (Silver Star)
  • LCpl John R. Baird, Oak Lawn, IL (Silver Star)
  • LCpl David A. Chacon, Gilcrest, CO (Silver Star)
  • Pfc Larry J. Boehm, San Felipe, TX
  • Pfc Fred Butler, Miami, FL
  • Pfc Norman P. Chittester, Falls Creek, PA
  • Pfc Anthony L. Johnson, Buena Vista, VA
  • Pfc William B. Tarrance, Torrance, CA (HQ Co, 9th Marines with Alpha 1/9)

Navy Cross
The President of the United States
takes pride in presenting the


posthumously to

2nd Lieutenant
United States Marine Corps

for service as set forth in the following


For extraordinary heroism while serving as a platoon commander with Company A, First Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division, in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. Early on the afternoon of 22 February 1969, Company A was patrolling north of the Ashau Valley in Quang Tri Province when its lead element was pinned down by intense fire from a large North Vietnamese Army force, well concealed in a heavily fortified bunker complex. Reacting instantly, Second Lieutenant Christman deployed his platoon to the right flank of the lead platoon and skillfully manoeuvered his men forward in a coordinated attack until halted and pinned down by the extremely heavy volume of cross fire from the North Vietnamese emplacements and numerous sniper positions in trees. He directed the fire of his machine guns and light antitank weapons against the North Vietnamese emplacements and mounted such an aggressive assault that his platoon moved through the forward enemy positions. Undaunted by the enemy rounds impacting around him, he fired his light antitank assault weapon, and fearlessly charging across the fire-swept terrain, hurled hand grenades into a hostile emplacement, killing seven North Vietnamese soldiers and silencing their machine guns. Coming under fire from an adjacent bunker, he was mortally wounded while attempting to fire his light antitank assault weapon against the emplacement. With his remaining strength, he resolutely propped himself up on one arm to direct his men in outflanking and destroying the enemy bunker. His heroic actions inspired his men to such aggressive action in a coordinated company attack that 105 North Vietnamese soldiers were killed and a large bunker complex was destroyed. By his courage, bold initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty, Second Lieutenant Christman upheld the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a fellow Marine,
Ron W. Colfry
5 Mar 2003

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 12/06/2005