Behind every truck build, there’s a story. For Kristopher Saccurato, the story began in Lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, the day our nation was forever changed.
On that fateful day, Kris was serving as a Fireman Apprentice in the United States Coast Guard. The USCG immediately responded to the World Trade Center attack by leading a massive boat lift on the morning of Sept 11th assisted by commuter ferry boats including the Staten Island Ferry evacuating over 500,000 people off the island of Manhattan. Members were also involved in securing NY Harbor, Domestic Counter Terrorism Operations, helping local & federal responders at the WTC site. Their tireless work lasted more than a month. 9/11 and the aftermath of the attack resulted in the largest port operation since WWII. Following the close of operations, Kris was officially commended for his efforts while assigned to USCG Activities NY (later Sector NY).
Unfortunately, Kris’s selfless exposure to environmental hazards and deeply traumatic circumstances has had lasting consequences to his physical and emotional health. When I met with him he was preparing for a pre-op appointment with his surgeon to remove cancerous growths. And like many responders to 9/11, he still battles the effects of PTSD associated with the horrors he witnessed at the site of the attack. Such experiences can lead to depression, despair, and even thoughts of suicide.
Rather than surrendering to despair and his daunting health issues, Kris daily chooses to fight back. His loving and supportive wife, Nichole, and his step-sons, Tysen & Kolten, help him persevere when life seems to crash down all around him. Another important member of Kris’s support crew is his remarkable dog, She-Ra, who underwent intensive service dog training. She-Ra goes with him nearly everywhere and responds if he shows signs of distress. Last, he is also grateful for the resources offered by a suicide prevention organization called Mission 22 (www.mi22ion.com). Kris believes the tools and resources they offer are so vitally important for veterans in crisis that he became an official ambassador for Mission 22. In this way he makes himself available to help other struggling veterans. According to Chris, it’s a way to become a hero to the real heroes out there who are hurting.
Kris didn’t want his disabled status to limit him or keep him from being a contributing member of society. As an avid automotive enthusiast, he discovered that he had a knack for detailing vehicles. Wild Fire Detailing (wildfiredetailing.com), in the scenic town of Bend, Oregon, began as a hobby and soon became a life-sustaining business. It’s also a form of therapy. Detailing work keeps Kris busy and focused on doing something positive. He aspires to one day teach other veterans to pursue building automotive businesses. He sincerely believes it helped him find his way out of a dark place, and can be a good path for others to do the same.
Kris knew he wanted to build a vehicle to promote Mission 22, but he also needed it to be practical for use in running his detailing business. That meant a conservative lift height and an emphasis on utility. His F150 is more of an “Every Man’s” custom build. It meets his needs and starts conversations, which is exactly the point.
Mission 22 Ford F150 Build