Rolf Christenson was born in Decorah, Iowa, and entered service in the U.S. Army on July 27, 1983. In addition to his Regular Army Infantry training, Rolf graduated from Airborne, Jumpmaster, Pathfinder, and Air Assault schools and was the Honor Graduate of Ranger Class 8-88.
SFC Christenson served with distinction with several elite units to include the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) in Washington, D.C. where he was selected to be a Sentinel (Tomb Guard) and later Relief Commander at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. He was also on Secretary of Defense Security Detail for Secretary Weinberger. Rolf later served with C Co/2nd Battalion 505th Parachute Regiment in the 82nd Airborne Division. He was a squad leader and platoon sergeant during overseas combat operations for Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War. Later in his tour with the 82nd Airborne, Rolf served as an instructor with the Division's Airborne Leaders Course, Scout Recon & Surveillance Course, Pre-Ranger Course, and Rappel Master Course.
Because of his most outstanding performance of duty and excellent reputation, Rolf was selected as Platoon Sergeant and later 1st Sergeant of the 18th Airborne Corps' Long Range Surveillance Company where he served for three years.
SFC Christenson was reassigned to B Company, 5th Ranger Training Battalion at Camp Frank D. Merrill on September 25, 1993. Rolf served as a Mountain Ranger Phase Primary Instructor, Platoon Trainer, Senior Walker, and Acting First Sergeant. During his time at Camp Merrill, Rolf trained, mentored, and molded a great many Ranger students and cadre as well.
Enroute to a parachute training operation in February 1997, Rolf was unfortunately killed in a tragic motorcycle accident. His loss to the Ranger Community was immediately felt. Rolf was well respected and admired by all who knew him. He had been selected for promotion the Master Sergeant. His many awards include the Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman's Badge, Master parachutist Badge, pathfinder Badge, Air Assault Badge, Tomb Guard Badge, and Australian Army Parachute Badge.
He left behind his loving wife, Kimberly and adoring son, Dietrich. Rolf was buried with Honors on Arlington National Cemetery very near where he once served as a Tomb Guard.