LCDR Erik S. Kristensen was born in March 1972 in Portsmouth, Virginia, and grew up a Navy junior. He was a proud graduate of Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., where he was a scholar, a football player, a lacrosse player and a trumpet player in the band. He then attended one year of prep school at Phillips Academy before attending the U.S. Naval Academy where he earned his varsity letter in heavyweight crew before graduating with honors in 1995.
He served on USS Chandler in San Diego where he earned his Surface Warfare designation. After a tour with the SEALs as an Officer in Charge of a Special Boat Unit in Coronado, he returned to the Naval Academy in 1999 to teach and begin graduate studies at St. Johns College in Annapolis, Maryland.
By this time, Kristensen knew he wanted to be a Navy SEAL. Overcoming injury and the Navy’s concern about his age, he became a SEAL in 2001. He was assigned to SEAL Team 10 in Little Creek, Virginia.
On June 28, 2005, while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, four members of the SEAL unit Kristensen was leading were conducting search operations on Sawtalo Star Mountain in Kunar Province. The four were ambushed and pinned down under heavy fire by the Taliban. As Task Unit Ground Commander, Kristensen led a rescue effort.
LCDR Kristensen was killed when the Chinook helicopter transporting him, seven other SEALS and eight U.S. Army Night Stalkers was shot down with loss of all on board. Three of the four SEALs on the ground died of their wounds. To honor the 11 SEALs who gave their lives, a bronze memorial plaque, stone monument and golden medallion tree were erected near the entrance to Special Warfare Command Headquarters Naval Amphibious Base Coronado and dedicated before the public on June 28, 2006, exactly one year after the casualty.
He was 33 years old. He is survived by his parents RDML and Mrs. Edward K. Kristensen of Washington, D.C. His remains are interred at the U.S Naval Academy.