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John Alda Kemp

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial

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John Alda Kemp
1940-1966

“His life was short but infused with ‘Duty, Honor, Country’.”

Assembly, March/April 2001

John Alda Kemp was born on February 3, 1940, in Bud, West Virginia, the eldest of four children born to Albert and Garnet McAllister Kemp. By 1954 John and his siblings were orphaned, and John was sent to live with a maternal uncle, Terry McAllister, and his wife Jean.

John attended Mullins High School and graduated in 1957. His had wanted to attend the Air Force Academy but was prevented from doing so by a recordkeeping mistake which erroneously said that he had failed an eye exam. He went to West Point instead. While a cadet, John participated in the French, Camera, rifle, pistol and outdoor sportsman clubs. He was also a member of the staff of the academy magazine, The Howitzer. John graduated on June 7, 1961, with a Bachelor of Science degree and was commissioned a second lieutenant.
John Alda Kemp
John Alda Kemp in the cockpit

John’s military training took him to Air Defense School in Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he received field artillery training. He was then assigned to the Los Angeles Air Defense Section where he was IFC Platoon leader of Battery D, 4th Missile Battalion, 65th Artillery. In 1964, he became executive officer of Battery D.

John Alda Kemp
John Alda Kemp

In October 1965, John was assigned to the 23rd Artillery Group in the Republic of Vietnam. On August 8, 1966, John disappeared while flying cover for a convoy along Highway One between Ben Hoa and Xaun Loc. It was seven months before the crash site was found and John’s remains recovered. His body was returned to the United States, and he was buried in the West Point Post Cemetery on April 11, 1967.

John Alda Kemp was survived by his wife Julia Castoro Kemp, whom he had married on June 10, 1961, and three children. His name is on panel 9E, row 114, of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters, and the Purple Heart.

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West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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