View Full Version : Father honors fallen son with military service

01-30-09, 10:55 AM
Father honors fallen son with military service
Cpl. Andrew Avitt

CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa (January 30, 2009) -- He thought it was a prank when he received a message on his answering machine from the White House. Later that month Bill Krissoff, a 60-year-old orthopedic surgeon from Truckee, Calif., his wife Christine and his son, 1st Lt. Austin Krissoff, were in a small room face-to-face with the president.

Surrounded by the families of fallen service members, President George W. Bush asked if there was anything he could do to soothe the loss of their son, 1st Lt. Nathan Krissoff.

Nathan died in Iraq from injuries suffered after a roadside bomb exploded December 2006.

"Yes Mr. President," Krissoff replied. "I want to join the Navy Medical Corps, but they told me I'm too old."

At 60 years old, 19 years over the enlistment age limit, Krissoff needed waivers to enlist.

"The recruiter told me that it would take up to a year," he said, adding that even then his chances didn't look good.

After his meeting with the president, Krissoff got his waiver in two days.

Krissoff had set his sights on joining the military several months before meeting with the president.

"Fathers usually inspire their sons, I was inspired by both of my sons," he said. Though one can only imagine the kind of reactions he got for aspiring to serve at his age. Krissoff said he was determined. Even Austin was skeptical at first, he said.

He closed his orthopedic practice in Truckee that year and was commissioned as an officer in the Navy Reserve in November.

"After my commission I got a card from my son, it said 'welcome to the fight,'" Krissoff said with a smile. "He certainly has come around."

Now, Lt. Cmdr. Krissoff said he enjoys practicing medicine in the military and prefers it to his civilian practice.

"In military medicine you are functioning as a team, taking care of each other. You aren't worried whether he has insurance or about hospital politics," he said.

Krissoff, in shape and upbeat for a man in his early 60's, said he liked the idea of working out of a tent.

He is currently enrolled in the pre-deployment training program at 4th Marines Regimental Training Schools at Camp Schwab, Okinawa. He is slated to augment Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, on their upcoming deployment to Iraq.

"I didn't want to work in another brick building, I wanted to deploy," Krissoff said, explaining his desired role in green-side medicine. "I wanted to do operational medicine; to be a surgeon of Marines."