The 2005 graduate of Northview High School, and Staunton resident, is a member of the Marine Infantry and will be leaving sometime in March for a tour of duty in Iraq.
"I think we need to be there, but I hate to see all these young kids go over there," his father, Wayne Harden, said. "They attacked us and it is more of a need to protect ourselves."
Wayne, who used to be a member of the Army Reserves, tried to talk his son into entering a different sector of the military, but Christopher decided to go with his own instincts.
"I wanted him to go to college after high school, but he didn't want to," Wayne said. "Then when he said he was joining the military, I tried to get him to join the Air Force or some other area because I thought it would help better his education, but it was his choice to make."
The choice, in itself, to join the military came as a shock to his father.
"He just called me one day and said he had signed up," Wayne said. "He had been working a number of part-time jobs, including for the lawn service I own and the Humane Shelter, and never really figured out what he wanted to do until then. It came out of nowhere."
Shortly after signing up on Jan. 21, 2007, Christopher was shipped out to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego for basic training. From there, he was sent to Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he continued training to drive Amphibious Assault Vehicles.
Amphibious Assault Vehicles are the current means of troop transport for the Marines.
"He will be driving vehicles during his tour of duty in Iraq, but to what extent, we are unsure of," Wayne said.
To prepare for his upcoming tour of duty, Christopher went to desert training at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
"He completed this training just before the holidays and was able to come home for a few days before returning to Camp Lejeune," Wayne said. "We believe we can keep in contact with him through his laptop when he is over there, but nothing is certain at this point."
Wayne said Christopher has second-guessed his decision at times, but is ultimately happy and proud with his choices.
"He has said he wished he would have listened to me at times, but likes what he is doing," Wayne said. "When he signed up he said he found the military interesting and there was not a lot to do around here."