City employee continuing to serve

Published 10:04 am Saturday, November 11, 2023

ENTERPRISE — Friday morning Brookhaven Water Department Superintendent Kris Xifos will speak to the students at Enterprise Attendance Center for their Veterans Day assembly. He served for four years in the Marine Corps and never thought he would be where he is today. 

Xifos is not a native of Brookhaven. He grew up in Minden, Louisiana outside of Shreveport and moved to Brookhaven after leaving the Military as his wife Layne Jordan Xifos, a Brookhaven native. 

He joined the Marine Corps while he was still in high school but did not leave for basic training until after graduation. Xifos went to Paris Island in South Carolina where he began basic training in June 2007. While there were several factors in joining the military, 9/11 was one of the earliest callings he had to go serve. 

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“I was in seventh grade when 9/11 happened. You get into that age where you understand what is going on. Seeing the aftermath of people going to war as kids and teenagers. It was all that was going on. I had a deep sense of patriotism. My grandfather fought in World War 2 so there was always a service example. No one in my family went into the Marine Corps. My brother was in the military and helped me join. It gave me some understanding of what I was getting into.”

Xifos said it was natural for him to pick the toughest branch to be the best he could be. He had a calling to serve his country and wanted to become a better person. The US Marine Corps was the best branch for him to go into. 

He enjoyed it so much he never had plans of getting out of the military. Xifos said he signed up and never took the ACT because that was how much he was committed to a military career. College was never on his mind. 

After basic, he went to radio operators school in 2008 and then went to Ramadi, Iraq in 2009.  After a combat deployment, he came home and went back again in 2010 to Marjah, Afghanistan. The combat tour in Afghanistan was a lot tougher. 

“I came home and my girlfriend at the time, now my wife, had a discussion. I decided it was a lot for four years. The tours were tough so I decided to come home,” Xifos said.”When I got out of the Marines I moved here. I remember the bonds I made the most. I still talk to my fellow servicemembers. When you serve in that capacity it’s something different. It is one thing to live with someone for four straight years but when you live and work together and experience the same things you create a bond and love. They become your brothers.” 

He said he continues to talk with those guys and one of his friends from the Marines lives closeby. If he ever needed anything, he knows he can give them a call and they will be there for him. 

Radio Operating was a job involving communication on everything. Xifos would call in air strikes, support and Medical Evacuations. He had a bit of a target on his back with a 10 foot antenna but it never bothered him. He loved doing his job. 

Xifos said spending 75 percent of his time overseas training or in a combat zone was a challenge but he knew what he was doing and would do it over again. He said during that time anyone who joined the Marines or Army knew they were likely being deployed. 

He said his friends in the service helped him through missing birthdays, Christmases and funerals. Xifos said his faith in God helped him keep his chin up. 

Continuing to serve

Xifos had dreams to come back home and become an FBI agent or US Marshall. He planned on studying criminal justice in college and life got in the way of those dreams. Xifos went to work in Brookhaven and went to school to learn how to be the city water operator. 

He had to learn chemistry to treat the water. It is a bit ironic as he hates math and chemistry requires math and science. Xifos said the Marines might not have prepared him for his specific job but it did prepare him for how to approach work.

“The values and motivation I learned. They helped me to learn what I’m doing now. I love what I do. I love working for the city of Brookhaven and serving,” Xifos said. “We help make this place a great place to live with clean water and great infrastructure. This is the one thing I didn’t think I would do but it is a blessing now.” 

Adjusting to civilian life was a bit of a challenge at first. Xifos said he went from an environment where everything is planned because it was life or death. Civilian life is not like that. Sometimes veterans feel lost and feel like they don’t have a place, he said. It is a feeling he experiences sometimes. 

One of his current non-work projects is working with Senator Jason Barrett and other representatives to get new legislation passed to help veterans. He said there are a lot of challenges they face when they enter civilian life and he hopes Mississippi legislates programs to help veterans. 

“I love pouring my energy into helping others. It gratifies me to help someone else,” Xifos said. “My faith in God, family and friends have supported me.” 

Xifos has two daughters. 

Veterans Day

His speech Friday will be a message about thanking veterans for their service. He said it is great that people tell veterans “Thank you for your service,” but those words are empty unless they are supported by action. Something he hopes to get across to students. 

“Make sure you are living a life worthy of their sacrifice,” Xifos said. “So many people didn’t make it back home. They gave up a right to come back, to come home and get married, have a family and a future. Go out and live that life to your fullest for them.” 

Xifos said he personally knew 10 soldiers who did not make it back home. His experiences in the Marines have shaped his perspective of Veterans Day. 

“Before I served, Veterans Day was important. I had two grandfathers who served. You learned about our country’s history and why it is important in school,” Xifos said. “When I came home and realized I was now a combat veteran there was a difference in how you feel. I don’t look at myself as a hero. The ones who didn’t come home are the heroes. Until you go and serve you don’t realize the honor and privilege you have to serve. To me it is the greatest honor.”