Edward Lee Christiansen was on the deck of the U.S.S. Arizona with his younger brother, Harlan Carl, the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. They planned to go ashore to Honolulu to have their photo taken and sent back home to Kansas. Edward said he forgot something in his room and left to retrieve it. But the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began, and the brothers never saw each other again. Edward, 20, died. Harlan Carl, 19, survived.
Edward enlisted in January 1940 and Harlan Carl followed him in August 1941. He recalled that when he boarded the Arizona for the first time, Edward was there waiting for him.
Harlan Carl was injured in the attack and was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1942. He returned home to Columbus in southeast Kansas, and rose through the ranks of the police department to become chief. He died in 2002.
Edward was born June 24, 1921. His father, Carl, was born in Denmark and his mother, Winona Canny, in Kansas. The father was in the Army’s 475th aero squadron in England and France during World War I.
“Eddie,” as he was known by friends, was a Boy Scout and graduated from Cherokee County Community High School in 1939. He worked during school at Bud Martin Bakery. At the time of his death, he was a baker and petty officer third class on the Arizona.
The local paper, the Columbus Daily Advocate, described Eddie as “quiet by nature and extremely popular.”
Sources: US Census, The Capital-Journal of Topeka, Kansas; Los Angeles Times; The Joplin Globe of Joplin, Missouri; the Arizona Republic; The Morning Sun of Pittsburg, Kansas; the Columbus (Kansas) Daily Advocate; The Modern Light of Columbus. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.