Former East Grand Rapids resident Bill Krissoff never figured to be in a position to look President Bush in the eye and ask a favor.
But there he was, sitting in a room in Reno with Bush and several other families who had lost soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan.
His son, Marine Lt. Nathan Krissoff, had been killed in a December 2006 roadside bomb explosion in Iraq.
Months later, Krissoff came to a carefully considered decision: He would honor his son by leaving a flourishing orthopedic practice, a comfortable life, to join the Navy as a combat surgeon.
But his application for an age waiver was mired in paperwork.
Bush went around the room and asked if there was anything he could do.
“I said, ‘Yah, there is one thing. I want to join the Navy medical corps and I gotta get some help here,'” recalled Krissoff, 61, a 1964 graduate of East Grand Rapids High School who now resides in California near Reno.
Three days after that August meeting, the Navy called. His waiver had been granted.
Krissoff was commissioned a lieutenant commander Nov. 18, after which he expects to attend officer development school in January. Attached to the 4th Medical Battalion, he is on course to join a combat surgical team. He hopes to serve in Iraq.
Krissoff and his wife also appeared on a CBS Morning segment. CBS News picked up the story from People magazine. A scan of the article is below. The Krissoff’s other son is also a Marine officer.
His wife, Christine, 56, has made peace with his choice as well. But it doesn’t mean she won’t miss her husband.
“I am not fine with the amount of time he’s gone. But none of the wives of the military people who serve are going to be fine with it.
“That’s just part of the deal.”
His mother, East Grand Rapids resident Sylvia Krissoff, 88, said she was “shocked” when she learned what he planned to do.
Then it started to make sense.
“I think, for him, it really is great. It’s really an extension of his love for Nate and, in some ways, carrying on for what Nate would have done.
“Nate would have been so proud of him.”
As are we all. As the Marines he saves will soon start addressing him, “Welcome aboard, Doc.”