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John William Christianson

John Christianson.

Pilot, Flight Commander; Assist Ops Officer; Chief of Intel; plus others.

Mar. 1962 – Mar. 1963, at Williams AFB, AZ. for USAF Pilot Training on T-33’s and T-37’s.

Apr. 1963 – Nov. 1963, at Stead AFB, NV. for USAF Helicopter pilot training on H-19’s, H-21’s and H-43’s.

Nov. 1963 – Jun. 1965, at Minot AFB, ND. as a Pilot with Det. 2, CARC on H-43’s.

Aug. 1964 – Nov. 1964, at Da Nang AB, Vietnam, SEA, as a Pilot with Det. Provisional 2nd on H-43’s.

Nov. 1964 – Jan. 1965, at Nakhon Phanom RTAFB, Thailand as a Pilot with Det. Provisional 2nd on H-43’s.

Jun. 1965 – Aug. 1967, at Hahn AB, Germany as a Pilot with Det. 5, AARC on H-43’s.

Aug. 1965 – Dec. 1965, TDY from Hahn AB, Germany to US Mapping Mission, Ethiopia.

Oct. 1967 – May 1968, at Phu Cat AB, Vietnam as a Pilot with Det. 13, 38th ARRS on H-43’s.

May 1968 – Aug. 1970, at Randolph AFB, TX. as a Pilot with Det. 12, CARRC on H-43’s.

Sep. 1970 – Mar. 1973, at Hahn AB, Germany as a Pilot with Det. 5th ARRWg on HH-43’s.

Mar. 1973 – Sep. 1973, at Lowry AFB, CO. for Intelligence Officer Training.

Sep. 1973 – Dec. 1977, at Travis AFB, CA. as Chief of Intel with the 60th Military Airlift Wing.

Sep. 1977 – Dec. 1977, at Kirtland AFB, NM. for Pilot upgrade training on the HH-3E’s.

Jan. 1978 – Sep. 1982, at Elmendorf AFB, AK. as Pilot-Flight Commander, Assistant Operations Office with the 71st ARRS on HH-3E’s.

Sep. 1982 – Jun. 1984, at Hill AFB, UT. as Emergency Actions Officer-Hill AFB Command Post.

Jun. 1984 – Retired from active service.

Jun. 1984 – May 1985, at Hill AFB, UT., where I was hired as the first Aero Club Manager


John William Christianson

John William Christianson, USAF (Retired)

July 22, 1939 – February 05, 2022

John William Christianson passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family in Tualatin, Oregon, February 5, 2022. He had been diagnosed with cancer in September and thankfully had minimal symptoms until recently. He was cared for by his wife and Hospice.

John was born July 22, 1939 in Valley City, North Dakota to Clarence and Theressa (Tres) Leininger Christianson. In 1942 they moved to Portland. John attended Trinity Lutheran School, Jefferson High School and Oregon State University where he met Lou Ann Buck “Lou.” They married in Portland in September 1961 and recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

Growing up, John dreamed of being a pilot. He earned his pilot’s license through ROTC in college and went on active duty in the Air Force a few months later. After a year of pilot training, he became a rescue pilot in the Kaman H-43 helicopter. He was proud of the H-43 and what he could do in it. In 1966 he flew supplies to mapping crews on mountain peaks in Ethiopia. He said no other helicopter at that time could reach altitudes of 14,000 feet. He loved his rescue work flying the H-43 in North Dakota, Vietnam, and Germany. In Alaska he flew the Sikorsky HH-3E (Jolly Green Giant) helicopter all over the state rescuing downed pilots, anyone injured or stranded in the vast wilderness, and even passengers on an overturned bus at Mt. McKinley (now Denali). He and Lou enjoyed an adventurous life together in various assigned locations around the world while raising their family. John received many honors and awards while happily serving, regardless of where he was sent or what job he was given. He retired from the Air Force in 1984 at the age of 45.

Following his Air Force career, he managed the start-up of an Aero Club at Hill AFB in Utah. After it was up and running successfully, the family moved to Spokane, Washington. He sold insurance for AAL until his love of flying pulled him back. He flew for two commuter airlines (San Juan and then United Express) out of Northwest cities while keeping their house in Spokane. Eventually they moved back to their roots in the Portland area while he continued flying. John finished his flying career with over 11,500 total hours in multiple aircraft (4,000 in the military and 7,000 with the airlines). He then worked for the Red Cross as their Department of Transportation Officer before full retirement in 2004.

Although John enjoyed his working roles, home and family always had his heart. He was a man of faith and integrity who loved God, country, and his family. He was a proud Vietnam veteran who loved meeting and talking with other veterans. He and Lou attended many Air Force association reunions in his retirement, and he served as President of the Pedro Rescue Helicopter Association (H-43 helicopter) for many years.

John loved telling his stories – even to strangers. He was involved in his kids’ and grandkids’ lives, spending time with them and watching them compete or perform. He and Lou enjoyed traveling in the US, Canada, and Europe. Family travels, including road trips to visit relatives in North Dakota, are also fondly remembered. His favorite activities were playing sports (or any competitive activity) with family and friends, playing racquetball, hiking, water aerobics, building or repairing anything, and being involved in his church.

He is survived by his wife, Lou; sister, Sharon Christianson Korter (David Bantz); children, Eric (Leigh Anne), Scott (Amy), Lori Williams (Chris), Mark (Shannon); his grandchildren, Erica Green (Zane), Erin Ward (Jeff), Katarina Hedgepeth (fiance Lawrence Carr), Sierra Christianson, Rebecca Christianson, Cooper Christianson, Emily Williams, Ben Williams, Sutton Christianson, Sloane Christianson; and great-grandchildren, Kai Green, Piper Ward. He was preceded in death by grandchildren, Mark and Sarah Christianson.

A celebration of hope will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, February 19, 2022, at Living Savior Lutheran Church in Tualatin, Oregon. Please sign the online guest book at

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