CAMP AL TAQADDUM, IRAQ --
There has been one Medal of Honor, 23 Navy Crosses, and 92 Silver Stars awarded to Marines and sailors serving with Marine units since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Some of the recipients are alive to tell their story while the legacy of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice will live on through history books and their surviving family members.
For Lt. Cdr. William B. Krissoff, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward) orthopedic surgeon and a father of two Marine officers, the inspiration to join the Navy Medical Corps at age 60 stemmed from his sons’ bravery and commitment to duty. In particular, his service is a legacy to his oldest son, 1st Lt. Nathan Krissoff, a counterintelligence officer with the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion who was killed in Iraq on Dec. 9, 2006.
Both of Krissoff’s sons, Nathan and Austin, were deeply affected by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Like many Americans, they wanted to show their support for the thousands of lives lost that day, but they didn’t simply raise an American flag on their lawn or put a bumper sticker on their car showing support for the troops. Instead, the Krissoff brothers took it one step further when they decided to join the Marine Corps, knowing that going to war may be inevitable. Krissoff knew very little about the Marine Corps then, but he knew that he could not be prouder of their decision to serve their country.
“In the natural order of things, sons are inspired by their dad,” Krissoff said. “In our family, I’ve been inspired by my sons and their commitment and dedication to service and Marines.”
Krissoff’s final push to join the Navy Medical Corps came from a visit their family received from the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion commanding officer, Lt. Col. William H. Seely, and battalion sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Kenneth C. Pickering. Both traveled across the country visiting the families of fallen Marines and those recovering from wounds, when they stopped in Nevada to visit the Krissoff family. They discussed the possibility of Krissoff serving as a doctor in a Marine unit and that’s when the future Navy doctor was convinced that he wanted to pursue his commission.
“I’d like to do that,” Krissoff thought. “That was the moment that I got in my head that was something I could do.”
However, the road to earning his Navy Medical Corps commission was not easy.
In order to apply for the Navy Medical Corps commissioning program, Krissoff had to apply for an age waiver to even be considered as a candidate. Prospects of receiving the waiver had appeared to be dwindling until the Krissoff family came across a unique opportunity to speak with then-President George W. Bush during a private meeting with several families of fallen service members in Reno, Nevada, August 2007.
The meeting was nearing its end when the President asked one last question: ‘Is there anything else I can do for you?’ Not letting this prime opportunity pass him by, Krissoff told the president about his desire to be commissioned as a Naval Officer. Two days later, Krissoff had his age waiver.
Krissoff closed his private practice in Truckee, Calif., and he and his wife made the move to San Diego where he checked into 4th Medical Battalion, Marine Forces Reserve. On arrival, he got started on the standard Navy medical training. He attended the Combat Casualty Care Course, the Navy Trauma Training Course, the Field Medical Service Officer’s Course and later attended the Joint Forces Trauma Management Conference, among other schools. In addition, in July 2008 he went on a month-long deployment to Morocco where he served as part of a Forward Resuscitative Surgical System to support a reserve Marine weapons company; they partnered with the local military and became familiar with operating in an austere and remote location.
Following the standard medical training, he had to get ready for a future deployment where he would serve as an augment to Combat Logistics Battalion 4, which was slated for a seven-month deployment to Iraq beginning in March 2009. He temporarily transferred to Camp Schwab, Okinawa to conduct his pre-deployment training - a place that the Krissoff family had a close, emotional tie to.
“Very ironic of all places, that I would be doing my training where Nate trained up with 3rd Recon,” Krissoff explained. “It was great to be there because of my many connections with the staff of 3rd Recon.”
On the last day of Krissoff’s training on Camp Schwab, there was a memorial service for a recon Marine who had been killed while participating in combat operations in OIF August 2008. Krissoff had made prior contact with the Marine’s family and was able to meet them when they traveled to Okinawa for their son’s memorial service. Krissoff knew too well what the Marine’s family was going through and was glad he was able to officially meet them that morning, helping to validate his decision to become a Navy doctor who could help save the lives of future young service members going into harm’s way.
Today, he is wearing the Marine Corps’ desert digital camouflage uniform while serving as an orthopedic surgeon with Surgical Company, 2nd MLG (Fwd), aboard Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq.
Initially, Krissoff expected to see Marines, soldiers and sailors with routine orthopedic injuries from work, sports or training exercises. With a slight increase in combat-related injuries, Krissoff and the rest of the medical staff aboard TQ continue to be prepared to handle any medical issue that may arise.
“We have a very capable team of trauma surgeons, anesthesiologists, corpsmen, nurses and support staff available to handle any surgical emergency,” Krissoff said. “I am honored to be serving with them [in] taking care of our troops… our goal is to give the best possible care at all times to our soldiers, sailors and Marines.”
Aside from seeing patients, Krissoff has also had the opportunity to teach orthopedics to young Navy corpsmen, as well as battalion surgeons and flight surgeons.
“This has been very fulfilling for me to work with the staff at TQ Surgical,” Krissoff explained as he nears the halfway point of the deployment.
Krissoff didn’t join for the glory. He didn’t join for the fame. He did it as a tribute to his son and all of the service members who have and continue to go in harm’s way serving their country in forward-deployed environments.
“I’m just a doc doing what I’m trained to do,” Krissoff emphasized. “We’re just here to support our Marines and sailors… they put themselves on the line and they deserve our best care, I’m just happy to be able to do it.”
Currently Krissoff is working on gaining his active duty status, so that he can lock in future deployments in direct support of U.S. service men and women.
For more information about the ongoing mission in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, visit www.iimefpublic.usmc.mil/iimeffwd.
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR CONTACT MULTINATIONAL FORCE – WEST PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE AT CE_PAO_WATCH_OFFICER@CEMNF-WIRAQ.USMC.MIL