In Memory of
Army Pfc.
Kermit Clyde Christensen
Flandreau, South Dakota
Moody County
June 25, 1926 – June 15, 1945
Killed in Action on Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands

Kermit Clyde Christensen

Kermit Clyde Christensen was born in Iowa on June 25, 1926, to Alvin and Josie Christensen. Kermit moved with his parents and his sister, Margery, to South Dakota in 1938, settling in Egan. During his high school years, Kermit, called Chris, participated in basketball and graduated as valedictorian in the class of 1944. His sister remembers that Kermit “grew to be a very ambitious, loving, honest young person.”

After graduation, Kermit and his best friend went to enlist in the Air Force.  Kermit's friend made it, but because Kermit’s eyes were bad, he was refused.  Kermit returned to Flandreau, where his parents now lived, and he was soon drafted into the Army, even though President Roosevelt had at one point promised that boys under 19 would not see combat duty.

Trained at Camp Hood, Texas, Kermit was sent overseas to the Pacific theater of operations on February 23, 1945.  After spending time in the Hawaiian Islands and at Saipan, Pfc. Christensen arrived on Okinawa on May 1, 1945. In a letter home, he wrote,

Guess by now you’ve gotten the suspicion that I’ve moved on again and you’re
not at all wrong. This time it’s Okinawa. Getting closer to Japan all the time….
The boys I joined [96th Division] have proven their stuff and I only hope I can
do half as good. It’s really interesting to listen to them tell their experiences.  They
meet you far more than half way. Maybe that’s the reason you feel a pride in the
outfit you’re in right away….

In perhaps his last letter home, Pfc. Christensen wrote:

…I hope to be home for my 20th birthday. It seems funny, pretty soon
I’ll be 19. Getting older right along. Sure travelled a long ways since
last September.  Wish I could travel the distance back by this Sept. but
I guess that’ll have to wait till our job here is done. I found one thing out,
that’s that I won’t have to worry about being in the Army of Occupation.
Amphibious troops won’t be so I’m told. Maybe I’ll get out. Figured up a
total of 16 points. At that system it’d only take about 4 ½ more years  (Ha).
…You’ll have to forgive the scribbling as I’m writing this on my knee…. The
thing looks pretty good here now so maybe it’ll be over soon…. Don’t worry,
Mom, I won’t do anything foolish.  Love, Kermie

On July 15, 1945, Kermit Christensen’s family received the following telegram from the War Department:

The Secretary of War has asked me to express his deep regret
that your son PFC Christensen Kermit C was killed in action
on Okinawa 15 June 45.  Confirming letter follows.               

 Kermit’s sister Marge told us, “It was 6 weeks before we got the telegram that Kerm had been killed. The guys were being killed so fast they couldn’t keep up with the telegrams.

According to the letter sent by the commanding officer of Kermit’s company, the following are the details regarding Kermit’s death:

…The platoon, of which Kermit was a member, had been given
an assignment to advance through Mt. Yuza Dake, an enemy
fortified village. During the advance, they were subjected to
heavy enemy rifle fire. Kermit was severely wounded by an
enemy sniper. Immediate first aid was attempted; but because
of the serious nature of his wound, he had died instantly and
without suffering.

…Perhaps the knowledge that he died as he had lived, with courage
and honor, will give you some small measure of comfort….                      

Kermit Clyde Christensen was originally buried on Okinawa Island.  In 1949 the graves were moved, so Kermit’s parents decided to have his remains brought back to America, and he was reburied at the Flandreau Cemetery; his parents were later laid to rest beside him.

Kermit Christensen was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart “for military merit and for wounds received in action.”

Kermit Clyde Christensen, marker cross

This entry was respectfully submitted by Sheri Sateren, 8th Grade West, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, December 1, 2000. Information for this entry was provided by Marge Hess, Flandreau, South Dakota, sister of Kermit Christensen.