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Youngest and most decorated Vietnam vet joining military hall of fame

By Wakisha Bailey

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    BENSALEM, Pennsylvania (KYW) — The lyrics of “God Bless the USA” have a different meaning to a group of veterans from Victor Six, a veterans organization run by Capt. David Alan Christian.

We saw them working out as the song played, lifting as singer Lee Greenwood sang the words “I’ll proudly stand up.”

“Almost everybody in this room has experienced something that causes them pain, emotional pain or physical pain,” Christian said. “The average man in World War II fought 40 days, the average infantryman in Vietnam fought 240 days.”

Christian is the youngest and most decorated Vietnam veteran and is now part of the National Military Officers Hall of Fame. He is being inducted Tuesday.

Tuesday afternoon, Christian will receive a hero’s welcome home, where a police motorcade escort will take him from the Philadelphia International Airport to a reception in Bensalem.

“I’m looking at the Hall of Fame as a tool to help veterans,” he said.

Both humble and modest, there’s a reason these veterans salute him.

“I was considered America’s youngest second lieutenant at 18 years old,” he said.

It was a very proud moment for his mother Dorothy Christian, who served in World War II as an Army aide.

“She pinned my bars on, and my mother was only 4 foot 11,” Christian said.

As a lieutenant in South Vietnam in 1968, Christian was wounded in action seven times and awarded several medals including the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism and several Purple Hearts.

That same year, he received two Silver Stars, the country’s third-highest medal for valor. In 1969, he was severely burned by napalm in Vietnam.

“Battle is really horrendous, war is hell,” Christian said. “And when bullets are flying, it’s really difficult, some of the people you loved, some of the people you cared for, you tell them you got their six and they have your six, and they take a bullet.”

By the age of 20, he was promoted to captain and retired from the Army a year later.

Back on U.S. soil, he continued to protect his soldiers, as an advocate.

“I felt that I had a calling, I could help veterans,” he said.

Capt. David Alan Christian’s mother Dorothy pins his bars during a ceremony. Dorothy Christian is also a veteran, having served as an army aide during World War II.

Christian lobbied for policies that protect veterans. His latest venture is suicide awareness.

“I look back during the Vietnam War years, and no one knows the number of suicides,” Christian said. “But they’re speculating there was more people who committed suicide that came back from Vietnam, out of the 3 and a half million people, more people that committed suicide than there are names on the wall in Washington D.C. that died in battle. So, they died at their own hands.”

Victor Six is Christian’s health and fitness organization, a 12-week training and exercise program.

“A strong body fuels a strong mind,” Christian said. “We wanted people to get their bodies exercising so that their mind would capture different things.”

While it may look like simple weightlifting, belting out a patriotic tune or even a loving hug, these weekly sessions have saved lives.

“My mother died at a young age, at 44 so stress can kill you,” Christian said. “She was raising four children by herself. My older brother and myself and my younger brother all served. I buried my older brother at the national cemetery. All three of us were disabled American veterans.”

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