William John Christman III was born on August 10, 1945 and joined the Armed Forces while in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
He served in the United States Marine Corps, 3rd Platoon, 1st Battalion, 9th Regiment. In two years of service, he attained the rank of Second Lieutenant. He began a tour of duty in Vietnam on November 10, 1968.
On February 22, 1969, at the age of 23, William John Christman III perished in the service of our country in South Vietnam, Quang Tri.
Lieutenant Christman was a posthumous recipient of both the Purple Heart Medal and the Navy Cross. The citation for the Navy Cross reads:
For extraordinary heroism while serving as a platoon commander with Company A, First Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division, in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam.
Early on the afternoon of 22 February 1969, Company A was patrolling north of the Ashau Valley in Quang Tri Province when its lead element was pinned down by intense fire from a large North Vietnamese Army force, well concealed in a heavily fortified bunker complex.
Reacting instantly, Second Lieutenant Christman deployed his platoon to the right flank of the lead platoon and skillfully maneuvered his men forward in a coordinated attack until halted and pinned down by the extremely heavy volume of cross fire from the North Vietnamese emplacements and numerous sniper positions in trees. He directed the fire of his machine guns and light antitank weapons against the North Vietnamese emplacements and mounted such an aggressive assault that his platoon moved through the forward enemy positions.
Undaunted by the enemy rounds impacting around him, he fired his light antitank assault weapon, and fearlessly charging across the fire swept terrain, hurled hand grenades into a hostile emplacement, killing seven North Vietnamese soldiers and silencing their machine guns.
Coming under fire from an adjacent bunker, he was mortally wounded while attempting to fire his light antitank assault weapon against the emplacement. With his remaining strength, he resolutely propped himself up on one arm to direct his men in outflanking and destroying the enemy bunker. His heroic actions inspired his men to such aggressive action in a coordinated company attack that 105 North Vietnamese soldiers were killed and a large bunker complex was destroyed.
By his courage, bold initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty, Second Lieutenant Christman upheld the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
CHRISTMAN, WILLIAM JOHN III
- 2LT USMC
- DATE OF BIRTH: 08/10/1945
- DATE OF DEATH: 02/22/1969
- BURIED AT: SECTION 35 SITE 2529
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Reviewed by: Michael Howard