Army Chaplain Stops Machete Wielding Soldier in Hostage Situation

By Faye Higbee

Army Chaplain Matthew Christensen was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. Back in February, he stopped by a soldier’s home to counsel him. The Army Times reported that he found that the man had been drinking and was armed with a machete. But what began as a suicidal individual quickly escalated into a hostage situation.

Another chaplain and the soldier’s roommate arrived. A speakerphone was used to speak with family members.

“He basically told them that they had failed him in his growing-up years to protect him from his abusive father. Then he declared that he had three hostages, and that he was going to kill all of us that night to get back at his family.”

The Chaplain reported that after two hours, the soldier pinned his roommate against the wall with the machete. At that point, there were no options: either grab him or watch him kill someone.

“When he went to swing the machete, there weren’t too many other options but to physically jump in and grab and restrain the soldier.”

And jump in he did. While he restrained the man, the other  Chaplain kicked away the machete. Christensen mentioned that tackling a person isn’t the “preferred method of counselling.”

On Tuesday, Captain (CH) Christensen was awarded the Soldier’s Medal. He was recommended for the medal by his battalion commander at Fort Wainwright, but was actually surprised the medal was authorized. He is now assigned to 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment, at Fort Benning, Georgia.

“The Soldier’s Medal is awarded to any person of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who, while serving in any capacity with the Army of the United States distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy.”

Commanding officers say that he is someone who takes care of his soldiers.

“What impressed me was Matt’s judgment and the fact that he waited until there were no other options until he physically restrained [the soldier] to prevent the loss of somebody else’s life.” Lt Col Joel Newsom


Featured Photo: Soldier’s Medal presentation to Capt. (CH) Matthew C. Christensen by Patrick A. Albright/Army