In Memory of
Army Private First Class
Merlin Keith Christiansen
Gettysburg, South Dakota
Potter County
May 3, 1925 - - December 18, 1944
Killed in Action in Belgium

Merlin Keith Christiansen  Merlin Keith Christiansen, headstone - Photo courtesy of Derek Groft

                                                                                  Photo courtesy of Derek Groft

Merlin K. “Keith” Christiansen, son of Mr. and Mrs. Hans Christiansen, brother of Marcel Christiansen, was born on May 3, 1925. He attended school in Gettysburg, SD, until he graduated in 1943. He enlisted in the United States Army under the Army Specialized Training Program on July 14, 1943 and entered active duty on August 6, 1943.

Private Christiansen was sent from Ft. Snelling to Ft. Benning, Georgia, for basic training. After basic training he went to Arkansas State College for specialized training, but the program closed on March 8, 1944. He was sent to the infantry and trained for combat at Camp Maxie, Texas. He was then assigned to the 99th Division of the 394th Infantry Regiment.

On December 18, 1944, Private First Class Merlin Keith Christiansen was killed in action in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. On January 11, 1945, his parents received a message that advised them that Pfc. Christiansen was missing in action. In March, the Christiansen family received a telegram advising them that the earlier message saying that their son was missing was inaccurate. The telegram also told them that their son had been killed in action on December 18, 1944.

Pfc. Merlin Christiansen is buried at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery in Minnesota.  Memorial services were held at the Methodist church in Gettysburg, SD. The memorial service was officiated by Reverend A. W. Gugin. Pfc. Christiansen was awarded with the Combat Infantryman’s Badge for exemplary conduct while in action.

I will remember the service and sacrifice of Private First Class Merlin Keith Christiansen.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Jamie L. Porter, 9th grade, Stanley County High School, Fort Pierre, South Dakota, April 14, 2002. Phyllis Wise of the Dakota Sunset Museum, Gettysburg, South Dakota;  Carol Lowry of Canada, and  Norma Jean Fiero of Isle, Minnesota, both cousins of Pfc. Christiansen, provided information for this entry.