Thomas W. Christensen: Army reservist liked quiet

January 2, 2004


Army Staff Sgt. Thomas W. Christensen died Dec. 25 during a mortar attack on his living quarters in Baqubah, Iraq.

Sgt. Christensen, a reservist with the 652nd Engineer Battalion based in Harvey, had been overseas for about a year, starting in Kuwait and later moving into Iraq.

He joined the military in the early 1980s and left in 1994 to become a reservist.

Known for being quick with his mind and good with his hands, Sgt. Christensen worked in carpentry and engineering throughout his military career, spending years as a missile technician.

The 42-year-old called family every two weeks, updating them in 15-minute blocks about the weather and the war. The last time he talked with his brother, Chris Christensen of Detroit, he asked for some flavored coffee to share with his battalion.

"If someone needed some help, he'd be the first guy to step up," he said. "He wouldn't say anything about it. He'd just do it."

A few years ago, Sgt. Christensen moved to the Upper Peninsula, where he'd spent time as a child camping with the Boy Scouts. He went hunting and fishing, and enjoyed the solitude near his home in Atlantic Mine, his brother said.

"He did things real quietly," he said. "He wasn't good at tooting his own horn."

But, his brother said, there was a lot to brag about.

"He was so good looking, like a blond-haired Tom Cruise," Chris Christensen said. "He was the brains of the family, that's for sure."

But the quiet man who enjoyed his time alone also traveled the world with the military, spending his free time in Europe looking up family records in Denmark and learning family history.

"The last few years, he'd gotten to the point in his life where family is just about everything," said his father, Thomas Christensen of Highland Township. "What sums it all up for me is that he was always a very good son."

In addition to his father and brother, survivors include his mother, Janet Sprey; a stepmother, Mary Lou Christensen; another brother, Norman; a sister, Heidi; two stepbrothers, Donald Clay and Richard Clay, and four stepsisters, Ruth Ann Stover, Nancy Clay, Barbara Betzing and Peggy Wicks.

A funeral will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Highland Congregational Church, 1605 N. Hickory Ridge in Highland Township. Visitation will be held 2 to 8 p.m. Monday at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 404 E. Liberty in Milford. Interment will be in Highland Cemetery.

Contact JAMIE GUMBRECHT at 313-222-6609.