Elmer E Christensen USS Arizona

MM2c Elmer Emil Christensen

Elmer Emil Christensen was born Dec. 4, 1917 in Chicago. His mother, Anna Peterson Christensen, was a homemaker and his father, Olaf Christensen, a railroad employee. They were Danish immigrants.

The family, which came to include five sons, moved in 1919 to Buffalo, Wyoming, then a town of about 1,800 in the north central part of the state near the Bighorn Mountains.

The 1930 Census showed the family living at Ohio Camp, Montana, where the father was a blacksmith for the Ohio Oil Co., but it seems that relocation was brief and that the family returned to Buffalo, the seat of Johnson County.

Elmer Christensen graduated in 1937 from Johnson County High School, where he played football and was a forward on the basketball team. The yearbook said he “is quiet until you get to know him and then he is full of wisecracks and fun.”

Mr. Christensen enlisted in the Navy on Nov. 14, 1938, and went aboard the U.S.S. Arizona the next March.

Character Drawing of USS Arizona Sailor

Elmer aboard the USS Arizona

For fun, he played on the football team, which competed against teams from other ships. In a ceremony in January 1940 before the entire crew of the Arizona, Mr. Christensen was among 32 football players, five boxers, and six wrestlers awarded letter sweaters.  “The sweaters are of excellent material and workmanship, and have been purchased by Welfare Funds to express the appreciation and esteem in which our athletes are held by the ship’s company,” reported At ‘Em Arizona, the ship’s newsletter, in January 1940. “The recipients will wear them with pride and satisfaction that will increase as the years roll by. If they are careful they may even be able to hand them on to their sons.”

He was a machinist’s mate and petty officer second class when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Postcard from USS Arizona Sailor

Other family members of Elmer that served was Irving A. Christensen , US Navy, Melvin Donald Christensen also served, and Alvin Harvey Christensen was excused as he was working in Washington state working for the government building bombs.

Sources: Photos and info courtesy of niece Sue Christensen-Shotwell. The Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Census; Navy muster roll; grave marker; 1936 and 1937 Johnson County High School yearbooks; At ‘Em Arizona. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.
NOTE: If you are a family member related to this crew member of the U.S.S. Arizona, or have additional information, pictures or documents to share about his life or service to our county please contact us through our FAMILY MEMBER SUBMISSION FORM