Cpl. James A. Christianson is a long way from home during the holidays.

The 20-year-old grew up in Mount Vernon and is now a navigation technician with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 40, stationed at Camp Bastion, in central Afghanistan, with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

It’s not Christianson’s first time being overseas this time of year — he deployed out of Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, Calif. — but it’s still an adjustment for the young soldier.

“It hit me big last year, not being home for Christmas for the first year; and this is the second year,” Christianson said in a recent phone interview from Afghanistan. “I think about home and call at least once a week or more, but you got to do your job.”

It’s a little depressing being away from family, because that’s what the holidays are all about, he said.

Still, Christianson said his spirits are lifted by the care packages from home of candy and stockings; by the decorations, presents and holiday food provided at the military base; by the caroling group that makes the rounds at the base; and by the fellow service members who are just like family to him.

Even with all that, Christianson still misses something else: the trees of central Maine.

“There’s nothing out here, really,” he said of his base’s location. “You look in every direction and it’s straight desert. That’s one thing I miss — the trees, green vegetation.”

His father, James C. Christianson, of Mount Vernon, retired as an Army warrant officer, having served 38 years. He said the family has kept in touch throughout the deployment.

“I’m very proud of him, of what he’s doing,” the elder Christianson said. “He’s grown as an individual. He’s matured greatly.”

Christianson was born in Augusta and grew up in Mount Vernon. He graduated from Maranacook Community High School in Readfield in 2009 and headed for boot camp right after graduation.

Christianson said the 9/11 terrorist attacks shaped his childhood. He remembers feeling afraid and sad in elementary school. As it happens, Christianson graduated from boot camp on Sept. 11. He deployed to Afghanistan in July.

He also was motivated to join the military because of his father’s service.

“It’s kind of like a family thing. We do think highly of the military, and I like giving time to my country,” he said. “Now I can see I might be helping with the mission and helping my country.”

As a navigation technician in Afghanistan, Christianson works mainly on equipment that keeps aircraft, such as helicopters and planes, communicating with ground units.

“It’s a lot different out here, seeing the birds flying out every day,” he said.


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