It is a long, long way from Dr. Randy Crampton's comfortable podiatrist's office in Storm Lake to the ocean chop of New Orleans or the volatile waters of Guantanamo Bay.
So Crampton was stunned recently when he was presented with a surprise commendation from the Coast Guard for his advice that has helped to keep an important unit healthy and in the fight against terrorism.
Randy's son, John, has served with the Maritime Safety and Security Team, an elite unit based out of New Orleans, formed in response to the 911 disasters to help keep U.S. shores free of terrorism.
It is action-packed work, and while deployed away from port, some Coast Guard personnel would face medical challenges, pain or injuries.
John, a physician's assistant with the Coast Guard, would sometimes see a problem he had no answer for. That's where Dad came in.
As Coast Guard Team Commanding Officer Sean Regan explains, John would contact Randy, describe symptoms, and the Storm Lake podiatrist would point the Coast Guard staff in the right direction to provide relief that would keep a MSST member in action.
One member, deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, suffered debilitating foot problems. When the Coast Guard was unable to provide an insert to solve the problem, Crampton sent one, at no charge. In another case, a member could not get to Coast Guard medical services. Crampton asked that photos be taken of his injury and sent to him. Crampton made the diagnosis, his Corpsman son relayed the information to Coast Guard doctors, and the remedy was prescribed.
Crampton also put his staff at the service of the Coast Guard when needed.
"Your extraordinary willingness to assist active duty Coast Guard members deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism has allowed this unit to successfully meet its mission," Reagan said in a letter of appreciation.
Crampton didn't just answer questions, but would call back and make certain that treatment had been made and that the patient was recovering, the commanding officer said.
Crampton's "dedication and wise advice" proved invaluable, Regan said.
The Storm Lake podiatrist recently traveled to New Orleans to visit his son while in port. While his family knew of the honor to be bestowed, Crampton had no idea. "I thought I was just going to see my son. Man! My wife knew all along that I would be standing in front of the group and crying, and she was right."
In these troubled times, Crampton said he was happy to help out the military group whenever he could, and never expected anyone to take notice.
John may well follow in his father's footsteps.
The Coast Guard has a handsome educational reward system for those who serve four years, and this will help John as he begins studies at Louisiana State University this fall. After that, he hopes to attend medical school at the University of Iowa.