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Kempf, Peter T., Lt Gen USAF(Ret).
Home Town Whittier, California
Last Address Henderson, Texas
Date of Passing Jun 15, 2012
Location of Interment Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates Body cremated.
Last Known Activity
Major General Peter T Kempf is commander of 12th Air Force and the U.S. Southern Command Air Forces, Bergstrom Air Force Base Texas.
General Kempf was born in 1936, in Elizabeth, N.J., and graduated from Whittier (Calif.) Union High School in 1954. He attended Whittier College for two years and earned a bachelor of arts degree in geography from the University of Nebraska in 1965. The general completed Armed Forces Staff College in 1971 and National War College in 1976.
After entering the Air Force through the aviation cadet program in January 1957, he was commissioned and awarded a navigator rating in April 1958. He then was assigned as a C-130 navigator with a troop carrier unit at Ashiya Air Base, Japan. In December 1961 the general entered pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz. He received the Air Training Command Commander's Trophy and the Orville Wright Achievement Award as the outstanding graduate. Upon graduation in February 1963, General Kempf was assigned to the 18th Military Airlift Squadron at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., flying C-135 transports.
From June 1965 to June 1966 the general served in the Republic of Vietnam, initially as a forward air controller flying 0-1E's and an air liaison officer for Binh Thuan Province with duty at Phan Thiet. He later transferred to Da Nang Air Base in support of forward air controller operations in Laos and southern North Vietnam. After interceptor pilot training at Perrin Air Force Base, Texas, and F-4C training at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., General Kempf returned to the Republic of Vietnam in March 1967 and was assigned to Cam Ranh Bay Air Base as an F-4C pilot.
The general was assigned to the 347th Tactical Fighter Wing, Yokota Air Base, Japan, in February 1968, completing the Tactical Fighter Weapons Instructors Course en route. While assigned to Yokota he served successively as squadron weapons officer, flight commander, wing operations scheduling officer, and chief of standardization and evaluation.
After graduating from the Armed Forces Staff College in June 1971, General Kempf became an action officer in the Tactical Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. He served as military assistant to the special assistant to the secretary and deputy secretary of defense from November 1972 to July 1975. He completed the National War College in June 1976 and was assigned first as deputy commander for operations, then as vice commander, of the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing, Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.
In March 1978 General Kempf was named commander of the 58th Tactical Training Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. He remained there until August 1979, when the wing divided into two separate wings - the 405th Tactical Training Wing and the 58th Tactical Training Wing. He transferred to Langley Air Force Base, Va., and served as director of fighter and reconnaissance operations from September 1979 to June 1980, when he became commander of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. General Kempf transferred to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, as commander of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing in May 1982. In May 1983 he was assigned as commander of the 833rd Air Division, Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. He became commander of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Fighter Weapons Center, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in September 1985. He assumed his present command in July 1988.
The general is a command pilot with more than 6,000 flying hours in 0-1E's, F-111s, F-4s, F-15s and F-16s. He has more than 1,000 combat flying hours in 0-1 E's and F-4s on 643 missions. His military decorations and awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Airman's Medal, Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 30 oak leaf clusters, Vietnam Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
LTGN PETER KEMPF U.S. Air Force, Retired Lieutenant General (retired) Peter T. Kempf passed away June 15, 2012, after a six-year battle with melanoma. General Kempf was born July 9, 1936, in Elizabeth, N.J., to Evelyn and Hank Kempf, and was raised in New Jersey and California. He graduated from Whittier High School and attended two years at Whittier College, where he played football under Coach George Allen. In 1958, he entered the U.S. Air Force through the Aviation Cadet program, starting out as a navigator in C-130s. He subsequently attended pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, and graduated as the number one student in his class. He earned his bachelor's degree in geology from the University of Nebraska in 1964. His career in the U.S. Air Force spanned 33 years and he had more than 6,000 flying hours in C-130s, VC-135s, O-1s, F-4s, F-111s, F-15s, F-16s, and A-10s. While he flew a wide variety of aircraft he was a fighter pilot to the core and was a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB. He was once asked what his favorite airplane was. His response was, "The F-15, F-16 and A-10 were a lot of fun to fly, but I carried a whole lot of lead back from North Vietnam in F-4s and they never let me down." He eventually returned to Nellis as the Tactical Fighter Weapons Center Commander from 1985 until 1988. His career culminated in his assignment as the Commander of 12th Air Force, where he was the architect and director of the air war for Operation Just Cause, the US invasion of Panama, in December 1989. In 1990, he retired on an athletic scholarship to Henderson, where he was very active riding his bike, skiing and playing competitive racquetball at the national level. He is survived by his wife, of 54 years, Louise; his daughter, Laura; his son, Steven; his daughter-in-law, Marshon; and his granddaughters, Taylor and Rachel. The family is extremely grateful to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, for all of their care and expertise during his long battle with melanoma, and he gave them great credit for surviving as long as he did. No memorial service will be held. His remains will be cremated and spread by his family in a private ceremony.