Dave Christian (R-PA)
Campaign links: Dave Christian (R-PA-Senate)
David A. “Dave” Christian
Dave Christian 2012 Senatorial Candidate Pennsylvania Class I
Biography of Dave Christian from David Christian for U.S. Senate
David was inspired to join the service by his mother, Dorothy Christian, an aide to General MacArthur during WWII.
David Christian was born in Gainesville, Florida and raised in blue collar Levittown, Pennsylvania.
During his childhood, David saw his share of challenges after his father abandoned the family and his mother had to raise four children on her own.
Christian watched how his WW II veteran mother was willing to do whatever was necessary to feed her family and keep her children. For a time, they were even forced to rely on public assistance.
Fortunately, her hard work and sacrifices were eventually enough to make ends meet and provide David with a powerful example of how to conduct his life.
Service to Country
At the age of seventeen with his mother’s permission, Christian enlisted in the Airborne/Infantry of the US Army.
The values and lessons learned from witnessing his mother’s perseverance during hard times served him well in the armed forces.
By distinguishing himself through demonstrations of leadership & ingenuity, he was able to rapidly advance from a private E-1 to an E-5 sergeant within eight months.
Shortly thereafter, he was accepted to Officers Candidate School and was later promoted to be become one of the youngest Captains in U.S. Army history. As a young soldier in the Vietnam War, David Christian took on many roles as the military increasingly came to rely on his courage and expertise on the battlefield.
While at war, he served his country in both conventional and unconventional warfare in the following units:
- Special Forces, Green Beret
- 75th Rangers, Long Range Recon Patrol, (LRRP)
- 1st Infantry Division (Combat Recon Platoon Leader)
Christian’s service in the military was marked by his bravery and a commitment to his troops. His actions on the battlefield earned him two nominations for the Medal of Honor. Additional acts of valor earned him the Distinguished Service Cross – the Nations Second Highest Valor Award, two Silver Stars, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal for twenty five combat assaults into “hot” landing zones, two Vietnamese Crosses for Gallantry and a Combat Infantry Badge. He is widely considered one of the youngest, most decorated officers in the Vietnam War.
David Christian’s bravery on the battlefield came with a heavy price. Over the course of his time in Vietnam, Christian took a machine gun hit across the chest, was stabbed, burned by napalm on over 40% of his body and suffered serious shrapnel injuries from an IED that left his right hand paralyzed.
The War wounds may have left Christian disabled, but he was determined to push forward in a belief that his best days were ahead of him.
One of David’s proudest achievements came when he was finally able to reach a goal that he had set for himself early on as a recovering wounded warrior.
After years of physical rehabilitation treatments which enabled him to progress from a hospital Stryker bed to the point where he could walk with a cane, he was finally able to begin training for a marathon.
Running was difficult after sustaining so many injuries, but he fought through the pain. When the day of the Skylon International Marathon finally came around in October of 1980, he was able to complete the 26+ mile course (clocking in at 4:36:00) while proudly putting one foot in front of the other for Disabled American Veterans.
Christian wanted to be a carpenter in life but was quickly informed by hospital and Veterans Administration counselors that “there is no need for “one-armed” carpenters in society.”
When Christian returned home from war, he found an American society that was bitterly divided about Vietnam. Frustrations about war policy and even spilled over into the perception and treatment of returning veterans.
Christian knew that something had to be done and set out to make a difference for veteran friends, family and a wounded nation suffering with wounded warriors.
Much like today, with soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, finding jobs was the most critical issue for returning veterans.
It didn’t take long for Christian to demonstrate his leadership as a public servant with a Presidential appointment to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Shortly after he received his first federal appointment to help address the high unemployment of returning veterans of the Vietnam War, he found himself in an awkward position. It had come to his attention that President Carter had cut Veteran’s Administration funding and had even turned down a request to speak at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.
The White House’s actions displayed a lack of interest and willingness to fulfill its promises to Vietnam Veterans and Christian realized that something had to be done to convince the Administration to change its course.
As luck would have it, he was asked to provide a keynote address for a Veteran’s Day event in 1978. Not long before the event, however, he was told that President Carter would be replacing him on the roster. With Carter in attendance, this would be his best chance to make his case for veterans but he wouldn’t get much face time.
Christian knew that speaking out against the Administration’s actions and confronting the same White House which had appointed him would be a risky proposition for his career. Nonetheless, he had promises to keep and a mission to complete. As the event began, Christian was asked to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Instead of following the request, Christian took to the microphone and spoke for nearly four minutes on the plight of the American Veteran.
Not surprisingly, Christian soon found himself under political scrutiny and was finally dismissed from his appointment for being “too visible.” Acting to correct an injustice to Wounded Warrior Veterans cost him his job but won him the respect of his fellow veterans.
A New Calling
After his departure from the Department of Labor, Christian knew that legislation was still necessary to address important issues pertaining to Vietnam vets such as Agent Orange and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Public outcry resulted in the Administration rehiring him. This time, however, he was shipped out of Washington, DC and reassigned to the Regional Office of the US Department of Labor in Philadelphia where he continued his veterans’ advocacy.
In spite of limited resources, he made the most of this appointment and worked with then Governor Thornburgh’s office to develop the governor’s veterans outreach program and other job programs through the federal Veterans Readjustment Act.
Christian was also instrumental in establishing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder into legislation. As a veteran’s advocate, he helped author and promote Agent Orange legislation so that it could be introduced and signed into law in Pennsylvania as well as several other states.
In 1981, David Christian once again worked on behalf of veterans by helping to author and promote the Agent Orange Victims Act. The bill passed the Pennsylvania State Assembly and Senate and it was signed into law at a ceremony with Christian sitting next to Governor Thornburg in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Christian’s courage to speak out on difficult issues brought him to the attention of Ronald Reagan.
After departing from his federal position, he focused his energies behind Candidate Reagan as a political soldier. After President Reagan’s White House victory, Christian was offered positions with the administration. Christian, however, felt he could continue to serve the nation and its veterans working from the outside of government and respectfully declined the White House’s offer.
As fate would have it, a phone call from the President changed Christian’s life. President Reagan asked David to serve his country again and this time around he accepted the charge. Christian ran for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 8th District in 1984 and 1986. Though he lost both times, the margins were close. He is still most proud of being on the ballot with President Ronald Reagan.
Service at Home and Abroad
During this time, he also received appointment as Ambassador to the citizens of Chechnya for Economic and Humanitarian Aide and he reported to the United States Congress on his findings during the Bosnian crisis.
After finally completing his overseas assignments, he was assigned as a Senior Advisor to the United States Senate for National Defense, Foreign Relations and Veterans Benefits.
Between the years of 1978 and 2004 Christian had served the US Department of Labor on many occasions acting as a specialist on job development. He was formally acknowledged by Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao on December 31, 2004 for more than 15 years of faithful service.
He has also authored an autobiography, Victor Six, about his Vietnam and life experiences.
As a husband and father he supported family businesses “The Doylestown Garden Center” and his wife’s businesses located in Newtown, PA. David Christian continues to serve friends, family and neighbors.
He served for a number of years as the President of the Washington Crossing Re-enactors and continues to serve as President Emeritus. He is a proud Life Member of the National Rifle Association, Life Member of Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars, Life Member of the Rangers and the Special Forces Association, a member of the American Legion and the Military Officers Association. He is a life member, Past National Commander and past National Adjutant of the Legion of Valor, the nation’s oldest veterans organization.
He has served for many years in the past and the present as a board of director member on several organizations including The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and The Legion of Valor.
David and his wife, Peggy, live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. They have four children and six grandchildren.
Christian’s education began in the concrete canyons of America and continued to the jungles of Vietnam. David graduated from Villanova University, where he was a member of the National Honor Society. In May, 2011, David earned his Jurist Doctor from Rutgers Law School.