Kreml with his mom, Lisa Kreml, standing in front of the Christmas tree she has left decorated in the family room of their New Lenox home so Kreml can celebrate the holidays he missed with his family. | Ginger Brashinger~For Sun-Times Media
The Christmas tree was waiting, and so was his Jack Russell terrier, Amico, but Marine Pvt. Jordan Kreml didn’t know he’d be getting an all-American escort home to see them.
Neither did his mom.
“When I saw those fire trucks meet us, I just lost it,” Lisa Kreml said.
She said they didn’t expect a half dozen Frankfort and New Lenox Fire Protection District vehicles to escort them, lights blazing, all the way down Interstate 80 to Kreml’s New Lenox home, where about 70 friends and family awaited his arrival. About half of them were his excited Frankfort Fire Cadet team members.
Kreml thought he was just returning home for a 10-day leave from basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, looking forward to spending time with family and friends, making up the missed holidays and eating all of his favorite foods, Kreml said.
But those who know Kreml said he deserved to be honored for his commitment.
“He’s definitely a leader,” said Lt. Jeff Otte, of the Frankfort Fire Protection District.
As Kreml’s senior cadet advisor, Otte said he has known Kreml since he joined the program at 15 years old and became a “very active” cadet, volunteering as mentor to a special needs cadet for two years and rising to the rank of captain.
Lincoln-Way Central High School friend and fellow fire cadet Luke Stock, 20, said it was Kreml who encouraged him to join the cadet program more than a year ago, creating a career path as a firefighter for Stock.
“I’ve always known that he’s Marine material,” Stock said about his best friend’s decision to enlist. “No one has more honor and more pride in what he does than Jordan.”
Lisa Kreml and her sister, Kathy Beaupre, of New Lenox, agreed that Kreml’s choice was no surprise.
“He’s always wanted to be in the service, always,” Lisa Kreml said. She said her son tried to talk her into early enlistment when he was 17 years old but she made him wait.
Kreml, 19, enlisted in July 2011.
“This has been his internal drive, his passion,” Beaupre said. “He absolutely believes in honor, courage and commitment.”
Beaupre said Kreml’s accomplishments in basic training include an “Expert Shooter” medal and first place with his team in final skills competition.
Kreml will remain in Illinois as a recruiter’s assistant for 14 days following his leave before reporting to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California for continued training.
Kreml said he will likely be deployed to Afghanistan in November.
As for Kreml’s reasons for his choices in serving community and country, Kreml said, “I’ve just always liked to help wherever I can lend a helping hand.”
Have a Merry Christmas Pvt Kreml. We will be praying for a successful enlistment, and a safe return.