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Captain Christian was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2, 1892. He attended public schools in New Orleans, prepared for the Naval Academy at the Werntz Preparatory School, Annapolis, Maryland, and entered from Louisiana in 1910. He was graduated and commissioned Ensign in 1914 and progressed in grade until his promotion to Captain December 1, 1940.
After graduation Captain Christian was assigned to USS Prairie and later transferred from her to USS New York, flagship of Rear Admiral Cameron Mc R. Winslow, Commander, Special Service Squadron. In May 1917 he joined USS Ohio, employed with the Atlantic Fleet, and in August 1918 he was transferred to USS Nevada operating out of Bantry Bay, Ireland, and later with the British Grand Fleet, serving in that battleship until July 1919.
After qualifying in submarines in USS Fulton in October 1919 Captain Christian served in and later commanded USS 0-1 until October 1921. During the next two years he was stationed at New Orleans with duty as Officer in Charge, Navy Recruiting Station in that city. From December 1921 until August 1922, he had additional duty as Assistant Recruiting Inspector Southern Division with headquarters in New Orleans. He was detached in November 1923 with orders to fit out and command USS S-28. He had duty in the New York Navy Yard from November 1926 until December 1928 when he assumed command of USS V-3 (later renamed the USS Bonita) based on San Diego, California. Detached from that command in October 1931 he served as member of the Board of Inspection and Survey, Navy Department, Washington, DC until June 1933, and was navigator of USS Detroit for three years afterwards. Following that duty he was intelligence officer, Ninth Naval District, Great Lakes, Illinois, from July 1936 until June 1938.
Captain Christian attended the senior course at the Naval War College Newport, Rhode Island, in 1938-1939, when he rejoined USS Nevada serving as her executive officer until June 1940 when he assumed command of the hospital ship Relief. He was relieved of that duty in March 1941 and, on April 21, reported as commanding officer of USS Reina Mercedes, station ship at the Naval Academy. In June 1943 he assumed command of the USS New York.
Captain Christian has the Mexican Service Medal (USS Prairie); the Victory Medal, Grand Fleet Clasp, (USS Nevada) the American Defense Service Medal. Fleet Clasp, (USS Relief) and the Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign Medal.