November 2014 Heroes of the Month: Bill Krissoff and His Family
Bill Krissoff, his wife Christine, and his two sons Nathan and Austin are our heroes of the month, in honor of Veterans Day and the sacrifice their family has made. In the video below, you will learn first hand from Steven Spielberg about Bill and his extraordinary family in the beautiful and powerful mini-documentary Steven prepared this year to honor them.
A few introductory comments to add context. Both of Bill’s very bright and gifted sons joined the Marine Corps after and in response to 9/11. Nathan was a graduate of Williams College (one of the best colleges in America), a talented athlete, accomplished piano player and a natural leader. Nathan died in combat in Iraq in December 2006. Austin continued to serve his country during and after that loss.
Bill was a highly respected orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports injuries in Truckee, California near the Lake Tahoe ski resorts. He was 60 years old when he lost his son and 19 years beyond eligibility limits for the Navy Medical Corps when he volunteered to be a combat surgeon. Bill was inspired to enlist after meeting Lt. Col. Bill Seely, his son’s commanding officer from the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, from whom he first learned of the need for more combat surgeons and the critically important care provided by the Battalion’s surgeon at the time of Nathan’s deployment. Bill was initially denied admission to the program, but then President Bush personally intervened on his behalf after meeting Bill at a Reno Nevada meeting that the President had with Bill, Christine and other families who had lost loved ones in the war. (A practice that Bush followed on a regular basis; the meetings were closed to the press and not publicized.)
As a result, in 2009 Bill deployed to western Iraq and then in 2010 to Afghanistan, where he served an 8 month tour at Camp Bastion in Helmand province, the busiest surgical facility in the war zone, at an age when most people in his profession are making retirement plans. Not a week went by when Krissoff didn’t meet a Marine who knew Nathan or Austin, proving once again what a close-knit family the Marine Corps really is. Eventually, Bill was reassigned to the Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton and he and Christine are now San Diego residents.
God bless Bill, Christine, Nathan and Austin. I hope that Nathan’s memory will be honored by bringing his story to your attention so that you too remember his and their sacrifice. — Jim
(Special thanks and attribution to Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, for his tribute to the Krissoffs, “Where Do We Get These People?” (National Review Online 11/24/10), from which I liberally borrowed for this background information.)