Saturday, November 22, 2008

Beirut Vet's daughter receives Gift

PEOPLE PROFILE: Kira Kremer receives Freedom Alliance Scholarship

By Bill Wolcott
E-mail Bill

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Kira Kremer, 21, a 2005 graduate of Lockport High School, is getting help with tuition to the SUNY Upstate Medical University with a scholarship from the Freedom Alliance Scholarship.

The scholarships are for children of U.S. service members who have been killed or permanently disabled in an operational mission. Her dad, Daniel Kremer, was wounded in 1983 while serving as a Marine in Beruit, Lebanon.

“I don’t remember much,” Kremer said of the Sept. 6, 1983, shelling. “They sent me out to do reconnaissance at the south end of the runway at the airport. They opened up with everything. It blew me 30 yards. I was blind, deaf and bleeding.”

The artillery round landed about 4 or 5 feet from the Marine sergeant. He was told that shell left an umbrella signature and it was too close to kill him.

“I just got real damn lucky,” he said.

Who did it? “Nobody wanted us there,” Dan Kremer said. “They’ve been fighting there 2,000 years and seemed to focus attentions on us.”

On Oct. 23, 1983, two truck bombs struck barracks in Beirut that housed U.S. and French military forces. The bombs killed hundreds of servicemen, the majority of whom were U.S. Marines.

Kremer, who could not be evacuated after the Sept. 6 incident, was there, at the barracks. He had just gotten off a guard duty shift.

He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.

Kremer got out of the Marines at 21, but later enlisted in the National Guard during the first Gulf War. He has worked at several manufacturing jobs.

Two years ago, Kremer was classified 100 percent permanently disabled as a result of service-connected injuries in Beruit. He has post traumatic stress disorder.

“At 43, I’m retired,” he said. “It’s sobering.”

Kira receives $6,000 a year through the Freedom Alliance Scholarship. The fund has now awarded $2.5 million to the children of military heroes.

“It really helps me reflect on my dad’s service,” she said. “It makes me really proud. I didn’t understand before. It brings us together. I can be proud of him and he can be proud of me ... The important lessons my father learned while in the Marine Corps have been instilled in me through his parenting, and I believe that I am a much stronger well-rounded person because of it."

Kira is an active member of her school and community while pursuing a degree in physical therapy. She volunteers at the Syracuse VA Hospital, plays for the school Rugby Club and is a member of the honor society.

“We are proud to grant this scholarship to such an impressive student as Kira Kremer,” said Freedom Alliance President Tom Kilgannon. “The purpose of this scholarship is to help alleviate the financial burdens of college tuition and also to honor the service of our military heroes through the achievements of their sons and daughters."

Kira attended the SUNY school of Environmental Science and Forestry and is working toward a doctorate in physical therapy. “I want to help people,” Kira said. “The doctor-client time will be good for me.”

Daniel, who has had a series of mini-strokes, is now retired. He praises the Freedom Alliance. “It’s so personal with them,” he said. “It was wonderful support.”

Last year, the family was taken to the Army-Navy game in D.C., given the VIP treatment and met Oliver L. North, who founded Freedom Alliance in 1990. 

Ashley, an older sister, attends medical school in Erie, Pa. Their brother, Daniel, is a senior at Lockport High School.

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