BANDON - From 1952 to 1953 Army Corporal Hardy Christensen spent his time fighting in the Korean War.
He was 23 years old. It was his first time away from his home in Bandon, where the 87-year-old still lives today.
“I’d never really been away from home. It was interesting, because it was something new. It kept you busy. It was kind of hard but you just lived with it,” Christensen said.
Christensen was a field wireman, his job was setting up telecommunications for the Army. It’s not uncommon for wiremen to have to set up communications while under the pressures of battle.
“The Lord must be with some of us, because two of our guys were out working on wires when a shell came in. They dove in a hole, and once the shell hit they moved to another hole. The next shell landed right in the hole where they had been,” Christensen said.
He started his deployment at Heartbreak Ridge. It was winter at the time, and Christensen remembers it being very cold.
“We stayed there, and it was about 40 below zero. We stayed there all winter,” Christensen said.
From there Christensen fought in the valleys of Korea for the next four months, before moving over to Panmunjom.
“We were slugging it out with them in Panmunjom. The Chinese took an outpost, and the Turks didn’t like that. We were supporting the Turks, and they took out after them. It was a pretty big loss for the Chinese … They were fighting the Chinese in hand to hand combat, with their machetes and knives. They were getting them about three to one,” Christensen said.
Shortly after that Christensen was shipped back home. On his way back to the U.S he almost ran into his father in Korea, but the timing was a bit off.
“My dad was a merchant seaman, and he pulled into Incheon, they were unloading. He thought I was still there so he went out to where I was to find out I had shipped out the day before,” Christensen said.
Christensen spoke very highly of the mess hall sergeants he served with. He enjoyed the food and felt like the cooks were really looking out for their fellow soldiers.
“The mess sergeants were good people. They’d get what they could for you. We got a container of frozen pork chops in once and this sergeant was smart enough that he picked up a package of these pork chops and smelled them and he said ‘There’s something wrong with these pork chops.’ He called headquarters and told call all the pork chops that you were going to have off tonight. So we had "shit on a shingle" that night,” Christensen said.
The sergeant was right to have called off the pork chops because they were actually bad. The meat had thawed and then been refrozen after sitting for some time.
“We would have had a whole division out had we ate those pork chops, but he was smart enough to notice they were bad,” Christensen said
Christensen has been a member of the Bandon community for so long he remembers the 1936 fire that burned the city to the ground.
“I remember dad coming home and he said to mom and us kids that the town was going to burn tonight, He left to go help fight the fire, and he saved several houses,” Christensen said.
When Christensen returned home he worked with a four-man crew logging some timberland that his family had. After that he built cranberry bogs until 1990 when he had a heart attack and gave it up.
He was born on a farm a quarter of a mile from where his home now is, and lives across the street from the cranberry bogs he used to build.
Christensen lives a simple life in the place where he was born. A place that he loved so much he put his life at risk defend and uphold the principles it represents.