Remembering Martin S. Christie

Don Versaw

The shock of learning that Martin had died on 11 October from a head injury due to a fall still vibrates within me. Itís just too unbelievable. That he was on a trip with his wife Rosie in Virginia doing things for others is understandable.  Thatís what Marines do and my friend of 66 years devoted his life time doing it.  He was a corporal squad leader in 2nd Battalion, E Company of the historic 4th Marines when I first got to know him. Our positions on the thin beach defense lines at the fortress of Corregidor in the Philippines were within ear shot of each other. Younger than me by 6 months, but senior as a China Marine he made his presence known to all.  While not personally acquainted during our Shanghai service we did troop the same streets serving to remind the rest of the world that America was there to carry the banner of freedom and liberty in a country at war. 

It was many years after the battle for the defense of the Philippines and the ensuing 40 months in hell surviving as prisoners of war that I really came to know Martin and we became close friends.  During all that time our paths rarely crossed  but we both reenlisted and served at various posts and stations. We served tours in Korea where he was promoted to a commissioned officer. Later, as members of the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, our duties brought us together in the same antique WWII barracks building (12B1) converted to office space. He was posted there as Assistant Ordinance Officer of the Division while I was Master Sergeant in Division Photographic services.

The parade ground for the First Marine Division was directly opposite our offices and in May 1959 our retirement parade ceremony took place on that field. Our friends, families and many comrades came to see Martin and I share honors for our long and faithful service.  

The day of retirement (Left Mr. Christie  Right Mr. Versaw)

After retirement we were separated once again. Martin completed his formal educated and graduated with a Master Degree. He taught in Virginia High Schools for six years.  Then he accepted employment in Vietnam with the Agency for International Development. It was during that time that he met and married Rosie. 

Also,  he went to Iran to work with Bell Helicopter as a Management Analyst and followed up working in Human Resources Development until retiring in 1993.

Mr. Christie welcomed Japanese student Sho Sugiura at the 4th Marine Dinner in 2007

After more that 12 years separation we located in the Los Angeles area and our friendship was renewed once again as we worked together with military service organizations such as American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, American Ex-Prisoners of war and as the commander of the Fourth Marines Survivors organization. Captain Christie was a very fine officer and willing leader who won the adoration, respect and admiration of all who knew him. 


Martin S. Christie Captain, USMC (ret)
1921 -2008

* Mr. Don Versaw is a former 4th Marine and Mr. Christie's fellow POW of the Japanese.