Central High graduate serves country, community
By Denise Moran For The Courier-News May 16, 2012 4:08PM
Cpl. Kristofer Pinto, a former Burlington resident who is currently serving as a motor transport dispatcher at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan
Updated: June 29, 2012 8:32AM
Cpl. Kristofer Pinto, a former Burlington resident who is serving as a motor transport dispatcher at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, said that joining the U.S. Marines has proven to be a good decision.
“When I talked to a motivating gunnery sergeant about joining the Marines, he said all that I wanted to hear,” Pinto said. “I decided to go for it, and it’s been great. Being a Marine has taught me how to be a leader, more responsible, and just a better person. Everything they told me has been true. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Pinto’s job is to send trucks on the road and set up who drives which truck at what times. The most drivers he has ever handled at one time were seven.
“I am responsible for making sure the equipment, supplies and personnel get to their destination safely,” Pinto said. “I have always liked working with trucks. Some days are hectic, while on other days everything runs smoothly.”
Pinto said his typical day begins around 6 a.m. when he wakes up and runs two or three miles. When he’s not working as a motor transport dispatcher, he likes to go to the gym and either do push-ups or use the bench press and dumbbells.
Pinto began his military service on Jan. 22, 2009, when he arrived for boot camp at Camp Pendleton in California. He traveled with the Marines to Japan and the Philippines before he came to Camp Leatherneck in January of this year.
Pinto comes from a military family. His grandfather, John Charles Crome, served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Pinto’s father, Chuck Crome, served in the U.S. Navy for 16 years and in the Army for six years.
Chuck’s brother, Roger, served in the Army. Roger’s son, John, served in the Navy aboard the USS Enterprise from 1994 to 1998. He traveled to the Middle East, Italy, Spain and Egypt.
John and his wife, Nicole, live just outside of Burlington. John is both a carpenter and a volunteer with the Burlington Community Fire Protection District.
“Kristofer has always been a hard worker,” John said. “I’m glad that he joined the military. He’s really grown up a lot. I’ve always looked at him as more of a little brother than just a cousin.”
Pinto’s mother, Marissa, was born and raised in the Philippines. Pinto’s parents met when Chuck was stationed over there. Pinto was born in the Philippines and lived there until he was 7 years old. At that time, his father retired from the service and wanted to move his family to Burlington, the town he was originally from.
Pinto’s family attended St. John Lutheran Church near Burlington. Pinto graduated from Central High School, also near Burlington.
Sheri Stout of Hampshire knew Pinto many years ago when she was the Sunday school superintendent at St. John Lutheran.
“I remember Kris being quiet and shy, although he had a normal boyish nature about him, too,” Stout said. “I lost track of him during his teenage years, and then I bumped into him when he was in the Marines and on leave.”
“I remember feeling so proud of him seeing that he grew up into a very responsible young man willing to work hard and serve his country,” she added. “Having worked with children in volunteer education positions in the church and in the school district for 20 years, it’s such a joy to see children in our community succeed and become productive citizens in life. Kris is one of our success stories.”
In recent years, Pinto’s parents moved from Burlington to Davis Junction south of Rockford. Pinto’s grandmother, Juanita, lives in Genoa.
When Pinto was stationed in the Philippines, he was able to spend time with his aunts, uncles and cousins who live there.
“My mom told me that when I was there, I should expect my relatives to visit me,” Pinto said. “I was expecting around four people. When I opened the door, there were 18 people. When the sergeant-major came on deck, he was also surprised to see 18 people. They let my family stay with me in villas for two weeks. My relatives would cook for me and other Marines.”
Pinto likes to travel to Burlington when he is granted leave.
“It’s a great community,” Pinto said. “They are very friendly in Burlington. When I grew up, I wanted to get away from there, but now it’s a nice place to visit when I’m on leave. I can’t wait to see my friends and family again and go to Mott’s Lounge for a few drinks.”
Pinto turned 27 on April 11. He and Cpl. Keamus Tillman recently received good conduct medals in March for their service as motor transport operators.
Pinto’s tour of duty ends on Jan. 22, 2013. At that time, he plans to re-enlist.
Snacks such as Chips Ahoy cookies and popcorn are something that Pinto said that he misses. He said that snacks remind him of home. If people would like to send Pinto and his fellow Marines a care package, the address is: Cpl. Pinto Kristofer, I MEF/MHG Motor T, Unit 42511,FPOAP 96427-2511.