Local senior citizen recalls time with the 82nd Airborne

Shohola. Staff Sergeant Robert Christenson proudly donned his uniform, called cadence count, and rode in the rumble seat of an old Ford waving an American flag in the Port Jervis Memorial Day parade.

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  • Staff Sergeant Robert Christenson has participated in the parade for 15 straight years (Photo provided)

  • Staff Sergeant Robert Christenson waves from the rumble seat at the Port Jervis Memorial Day parade (Photo provided)

  • Staff Sergeant Robert Christenson (far left) with his comrades on Memorial Day (Photo provided)

"I'm not allowed to tell what I did in the service. I would be arrested."
Staff Sergeant Robert Christenson

By Lori Strelecki

Staff Sergeant Robert Christenson, retired from the 82nd Airborne Division, Company G, has participated in the Memorial Day Parade in Port Jervis, N.Y., for 15 consecutive years.

Christenson enlisted in 1948 and attended basic training in Kentucky. From there he went to glider school and jump school at Fort Benning, Ga., where he completed more than 50 jumps before being stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.

The mission of the 82nd Airborne Division is to "within 18 hours of notification, strategically deploy, conduct forcible entry parachute assault and secure key objectives for follow-on military operation in support of U.S. national interests." Founded and organized in 1917, the 82nd acquired the nickname "All American" because its initial members came from all 48 states. This is the basis for the "AA" patch seen on the shoulder of the uniform.

Christenson recalled his time in the service, and how he is "proud to represent his Company in the parade each year," in a recent interview conducted at Twin Cedars Senior Living in Shohola, where he enjoys his days at the place he chose to live out his golden years.

He reflected on his years stationed at Fort Bragg and his specialized training.

"I'm not allowed to tell what I did in the service," he said. "I would be arrested."

The time span in which he served saw the Korean War develop and break out. However, the 82nd was not deployed to Korea. It remained in the United State to defend against the possibility of a ground attack. Christenson was discharged on Flag Day, June 14 1951.

Christenson proudly donned his uniform, called cadence count, and rode in the rumble seat of an old Ford waving an American Flag at the recent Port Jervis parade.

Editor's note: Lori Strelecki has been the director of the Pike County Historical Society since 2000.

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