Tenus and Clayton Christensen
Tenus and Clayton Christensen.
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Resource CategoriesIn Service to Country - New and Old
Tenus Christensen began his WWI experiences in a trainload of young men from northwestern Iowa. They were sent to Camp Gordon, Georgia, in July 1918, issued wool clothing and uniforms, and then transferred to New York, where they boarded some large English freighters in a convoy of ships. After 8 days his group landed in England, where they stayed overnight before proceeding across the Channel to France. His vivid recollection of life in the trenches is written in “WWI as written by Tenus” in Clayton Loray Christensen: Autobiography. At one point his unit had gone without food for some time and Tenus fainted while standing in line. Immediately after the Armistice was signed he went on sick call, and was reported “missing in action.” No one in his family knew what had happened to him. It was only after they received a letter from him that they knew he was alive and well.
Tenus' son, Clayton L. Christensen, the grandson of Danish immigrants who settled in Pisgah, Iowa, grew up in on a farm in the Loess Hills. He graduated from high school in 1939 and stayed home to help his father farm before taking a course in basic electricity, and later some courses at Wayne State University. By that time the U.S. had entered WWII, and the draft board was taking a hard look at him. He enlisted in the Army Air Force in August 1942 and was called into service the following March. After a course in meteorology, he was transferred into communications and sent to Goldsboro, North Carolina, and later, Yale and Harvard Universities and MIT for technical training. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in October, 1944, and served in various locations as a radar specialist until his discharge in March of 1946. In his autobiography Clayton wrote: “The service was very good for me. I received a lot of schooling, gained a lot of experience, matured a lot and it gave me an opportunity to decide that my forte was electrical engineering. I have always been thankful for this terrific experience.”