Military service is a family tradition for Krimmels

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Petty Officer 3rd Class Kyle Krimmel stands with his parents Elise and Bill Krimmel during graduation from the Avionics Electrical Technician “A” School on Nov. 3 at the Coast Guard Aviation Technical Training Center in Elizabeth City.

Krimmel family March 2016 Boot Camp.jpg

By Kristi Langenbacher

Sunday, November 19, 2017

For the Krimmel family, service above self is not just a saying. It’s a way of life. Three of Bill and Elise Krimmel’s children have followed in their father and grandfather’s footsteps and joined the military.

Their youngest son, Petty Officer 3rd Class Kyle Krimmel graduated from Avionics Electrical Technician “A” School, at the Coast Guard Aviation Technical Training Center in Elizabeth City on Nov. 3.

Upon graduation from the six-month long AET school, the 23-year-old will be stationed in the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter shop on the hangar deck at Aviation Training Center Mobile, Ala.

Kyle, a 2013 graduate of Victory Christian School in Elizabeth City, joined the Coast Guard in 2015. Upon graduation from boot camp, he transferred to Station Ludington, Mich. At the small boat station, he attended school to qualify as a boarding team member, and also received qualifications for watch standing, boat crew and ice rescue. He conducted law enforcement operations and boardings and worked on helicopter operations with aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich. The work with helicopters renewed his interest in aviation, and he was selected for the AET program at ATTC.

“I’ve wanted to fly since I was a kid, so picking an aviation rate was something I planned to do since I was little,” he said. “It’s been a challenge, but it’s also been rewarding, and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Students in the six-month-long course at ATTC in Elizabeth City learn skills required to inspect, service, and maintain aircraft electrical, communication, navigation, auto flight, and sensor systems, as well as other functions of airframe systems.

Kyle said he enjoyed his time being back in Elizabeth City where he had lived for all but the first year of his life, through high school graduation.

“It was good to be back home, to catch up with old friends and to see how the town has changed,” he said. “I met a lot of good people at ATTC and I learned a lot.”

Kyle said being around the Coast Guard all his life sparked his interest in joining the service, and he was drawn to the service’s missions.

“The mission is broad-range, from intercepting narcotics to saving people’s lives, and that really appealed to me,” he said. “I want to be able to help people, and I am excited to see what my career has in store for me. I’m sure it will be something different every day.”

Kyle reported for boot camp on Jan. 12, 2016, exactly 34 years to the day after his father reported for boot camp at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J.

Kyle’s father, William E. “Bill” Krimmel III, joined the Coast Guard in 1982 and first came to Elizabeth City for A School in 1984. He returned to Elizabeth City when he was transferred to the Air Station in 1996, and retired in 1999 as a 1st Class Avionics Technician. He continued to work as a civilian on the Coast Guard base in Elizabeth City, and the family moved away from Elizabeth City in 2014.

Bill currently works as a civilian for the Department of Homeland Security as the Director of Operations Fusion Division for the Federal Protective Service in Alexandria, Va.

He and his wife have four children: Jessica, Kim, Billy, and Kyle. Their oldest son Billy followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and joined the Air Force in 2013. He is currently a Staff Sargent serving a 13-month tour in Osan, South Korea.

Bill Krimmel said he is not surprised that his children have joined the military, because they grew up living a military lifestyle, surrounded by the camaraderie of Coast Guard friends who become like family to them.

“It’s amazing that they are serving their country and joining a selfless service,” he said. “It takes a special person to join the military, and I’m so proud of all of them.”

The Krimmel’s eldest child, Jessica Leitzell, also served in the Coast Guard, with three years of active duty and three years in the reserves. She graduated from Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City in 2006, and joined the Coast Guard in 2007. From boot camp, she went directly to Operations Specialist “A” school in Petaluma, Calif., where she met her future husband, Brentley Leitzell. Upon graduation, Brentley was transferred to Hawaii, and Jessica was transferred to Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service New York.

She helped execute many Coast Guard missions in New York but said one of the most memorable was when airline captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made an emergency landing with a commercial airliner in the middle of the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009.

Later that same year, Jessica and Brentley got married in the chapel on the Coast Guard Base in Elizabeth City, and in 2010 Jessica finished up her active duty service so she could join her husband in Hawaii. She remained in the Coast Guard Reserves for three years before choosing to go back to college and be at home with her young children.

Her husband Brentley is still on active duty and is a First Class Petty Officer at Coast Guard Sector Saint Petersburg, Fla. where the family currently lives. Jessica said the Coast Guard allowed her many opportunities including obtaining a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, and she plans to go back to school next spring for a BSN in nursing.

She said her time in the Coast Guard instilled the strength in her that, along with her family’s support, helped her make it through her husband’s four deployments over three years with toddlers at home.

She said the Coast Guard will provide many opportunities for Kyle, and she is excited to see where her brother’s career takes him.

“I hope he always knows what a great asset he is to the Coast Guard, and that this experience will be one of the best things in his life,” Leitzell said. “I am beyond proud of him, and I’m honored to be part of the 1 percent that signed the dotted line.”