David Christian was born on October 26, 1948, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 6, 1966, and completed basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in November 1966, followed by advanced individual training as an infantryman at Fort Ord, California, in January 1967. PFC Christian was then accepted into Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and was commissioned a 2d Lt on August 1, 1967. After completing airborne training and Special Forces training, Lt Christian was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division in South Vietnam in June 1968. He transferred to 1st Battalion of the 26th Infantry Regiment in September 1968, and was badly wounded in combat in October 1968, returning to the U.S. in January 1969. Capt Christian was treated at Valley Forge General Hospital, Pennsylvania, until he was medically retired from the Army on July 3, 1970. David was elected National Commander of the Legion of Valor in 1978, and served with the Council of Vietnam Veterans, United Vietnam Veterans Organization, and the Vietnam Veterans of America.
His Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam: First Lieutenant Christian distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 29 October 1968 while in charge of the lead element of a reconnaissance-in-force mission ten miles northwest of Quan Loi. During an attempt to flank enemy positions, Lieutenant Christian’s nine-man unit came under heavy rocket-propelled grenade, small arms and automatic weapons fire. After firing several light antitank weapons, he led an assault on the hostile strongholds, killing three North Vietnamese and causing the others to flee. As he and his comrades advanced they again received intense small arms and machine gun fire and three men were wounded. Lieutenant Christian sent the casualties and the medic to the rear, and then led his troops forward until they became pinned down within ten meters of a bunker. Disregarding his safety, he assaulted the fortification single-handedly and destroyed it with hand grenades. The communists were reinforced by approximately thirty men, forcing the reconnaissance team to take cover behind a berm. Despite the enemy’s devastating fire superiority, Lieutenant Christian attacked them with two antitank weapons. He was painfully wounded in the hand, but refused medical care and returned to the berm to direct artillery fire. When friendly reinforcements arrived two hours later, he directed them to cover his left flank while he attempted to evacuate his casualties. Although wounded again by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade, he did not permit himself to be treated until the other injured men had been evacuated. First Lieutenant Christian’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.