November 1, 2015
I thought life had hardened me to the point that nothing would bring tears to my eyes. I was wrong. The story of the Krissoff family told in the excerpted Tony Perry 5/23/15 L.A. Times article below and the YouTube link included herein brought tears to my eyes for a number of reasons.
As the father of two sons, I know how dear those sons are to me, and am certain that nothing was more important to Bill & Christine Krissoff than their two sons. I can’t imagine how they emotionally survived the loss of their oldest son, Nathan, in combat in Iraq.
As a Vietnam veteran, I know too well the horrors of war and the fellowship and camaraderie of men in a war zone, and the emotional toll that the loss of a comrade can take on his unit members, his family members, and his friends. Based on all that I have read about Nathan Krissoff, he must have been one of America’s best young men.
But, in addition to the loss of their son, I couldn’t help be moved by the action taken by Bill Krissoff, with the support of his wife Christine. Please read the following excerpts from Tony Perry’s article and then watch the short YouTube video narrated by Steven Spielberg. If you remain dry-eyed throughout this video, you are much harder than me:
“After he was killed in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2006, Marine Lt. Nathan Krissoff was praised by other Marines as a young man who was charismatic yet humble, a natural leader.
At a memorial service at a base once used by the army of Saddam Hussein, battle-hardened Marines wept and embraced one another. His battalion commander told the assemblage that Krissoff had shown “great courage and steadfast dedication.”
But there is more to the Krissoff story. Nathan’s younger brother, Austin, was also a Marine officer who deployed to Iraq.
Their father, Dr. Bill Krissoff, an orthopedic surgeon, had a profitable practice in Truckee, Calif., when his son was killed.
Admittedly he had not been altogether enthusiastic when Nathan, a graduate of Williams College in Massachusetts, had opted for the Marine Corps rather than enroll in graduate school or begin climbing the corporate ladder.
To honor his son, Krissoff decided to enlist in the Navy medical corps. He was rejected as too old, despite the fact that, even at 60, he was lean and fit.
Then in August 2007, Krissoff and his wife, Christine, found themselves invited to meet President George W. Bush, who often met with parents of those killed in combat. And as he often did, Bush asked, almost rhetorically, “Is there anything I can do for you?”
Krissoff told Bush of his desire to enlist. Bush turned to his closest advisor, Karl Rove, with a simple directive: Make it happen.
Soon, at age 61, Krissoff was active-duty Navy, undergoing predeployment medical training. Battlefield medicine is different than a civilian practice fixing up people injured in skiing accidents. He deployed to Iraq.
“I did not go to Iraq looking for closure,” Krissoff said. “Austin and I were looking to finish Nathan’s unfinished tasks.”
Other deployments took Krissoff to Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Although he is reluctant to mention it, Krissoff was part of a medical team in Afghanistan that dispatched immediately “outside the wire” to wherever a U.S. or coalition soldier had been wounded.
During his seven-month deployment, Krissoff “would serve as the primary or assisting surgeon on 225 serious casualties,” wrote reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz in their book, “For Love of Country.”
“His presence there saved many, many lives,” said Major Gen. Larry Nicholson, who was a regimental commander in Iraq when Nathan Krissoff was killed and is now the commander of the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton.
The Krissoffs, he said, “are an incredible, patriotic family. I’m proud to call Bill a friend.”
Not only did Bill & Christine Krissoff somehow survive the loss of a son, they moved forward and served their country and their son’s memory in a self-sacrificing manner that is an example for all of us.
Please watch this short video for more information about this wonderful, amazing, heroic family:
Joseph Badal is the award-winning, best-selling author of nine suspense novels. His most recent thriller, Death Ship, will be released on November 17, 2015, in print and eBook formats.
Contact Joseph Badal at: