Skip to main content
SDPB Homefront Stories

Ralph Christensen, 2007

  • Branch of Service: United States Army Air Corp
  • Highest Rank: 1st Lieutenant
  • Military Service: Enlisted, 1942 - 1950

Listen to the following sections by scrolling forward to the timecode.

0:00 - Enlisted, became a pilot
1:44 - Training at facilities in the US, sick with scarlet fever
11:10 - Shot down and evaded capture, met high school friends during the war, lost seven classmates during 1st year of the war
13:02 - Going home, got married in 1945
16:18 - Experience when the plane went down
19:06 - Artifacts Ralph acquired when he went down, drop wheels during the war and pull out of formation; Germans should bring you to base for capture, lost a lot of friends - 2 left   
25:09 - Finished tour and going home
29:00 - Deadmans Bottle  

Ralph Christensen Obituary 

This story was recorded at an SDPB event in Sioux Falls, SD. 

Images Provided by Ralph Christensen

Ralph Christensen, WWII

The crew would receive a small cloth map of the area they were flying over in case they were shot down. Ralph Christensen used a similar map to evade capture when he was shot down over Hamburg, Germany.

Ralph Christensen found five pieces of flak in the compartment of his plane when he was shot down in February of 1945.

Ralph Christensen removed this oxygen system fitting off of a German plane called the Me109 while he was evading capture in February of 1945. Mr. Christensen commented, "Destroyed planes were everywhere!"

Ralph Christensen removed this cloth patch off of a German plane called the Me109 while he was evading capture in February of 1945. Mr. Christensen commented,  "The German Me109 was covered by a canvas-like material."

Russian Friendly Fire ID wore by Americans during WWII

First Wings, May 23rd, 1944

Ralph Christensen witnessed this amazing scene while flying over Hamburg, Germany during WWII. Mr. Christensen commented, "The planes were stuck together and would not release." (Recreation by Ralph Christensen)

Ralph Christensen and his crew were shot down in February of 1945. Frederick S. Daiger III, one of the crew members, bought the "Dead Man's Bottle" in 1945 after they evaded capture. Four of the crew members met in January of 2007 for a drink. The bottle had not been opened for 62 years. (Pictured left to right - Francis H. Mikesh, pilot; William F. Dondero, tail gunner; Ralph H. Christensen, pilot; Dale E. Francis, ball gunner) Ramon Conejo, radio operator, was unable to make the trip. Two small bottles were filled and sent to Mr. Conejo.


No Milk Run Here, Ralph Christensen witnessed this horrible scene. Mr. Christensen commented, "It was right outside my window. the wing was ripped off (Article provided by Ralph Christensen)

For more information about SDPB's educational resources 
and services contact Steven Rokusek at or at (605) 222-3422

The HOMEFRONT SOUTH DAKOTA STORIES Project was Sponsored in Part By: