Hovey Kemp, Washington, D.C. Business Law Partner
Goodwin Procter employees have a long-standing tradition of honoring friends and family who have served in the military. In celebration of Memorial Day, we asked attorneys and staff, "Who will you honor this Memorial Day and why?"
Hovey Kemp, a Business Law Partner in our Washington, D.C. office, shared the following story:
"I'd like to add a 'Semper Fi' note here honoring my 88-year-old Dad, Frank A. Kemp, a Colorado native who graduated from Yale in the Spring of 1942 and, having completed his Marine Corps officers' training at Quantico during the summers and school years leading up to his graduation, crossed the country by train to San Diego shortly thereafter. He completed his training there in short order, was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and was soon aboard a troopship heading for the South Pacific, landing in New Caledonia and assigned to a service company within the Marine Air Corps. One of his fellow officers who made the same trip with him related that Dad was so disappointed at not being immediately thrust into action that he didn't write his family for two months. However, he cured that by coming into his mate's tent one day in November 1942 and, according to a written account by that fellow officer:
"'Kemp came to my tent and said, 'Pack up, I just volunteered us for the 1st Marine Raider Battalion...we are getting out of this lash-up!' After hog-tying me and gagging my mouth we ended up being the first two replacement officers in the 1st Raiders after they pulled out of Guadalcanal.'
"After Guadalcanal, Dad and his fellow Marine Raiders island-hopped up through the Solomons, beginning with the campaign for New Georgia (now Papua New Guinea, I believe) where Dad was cited for saving the lives of several Marines who had fallen into the swollen Tamoko river during a critical crossing leading up to some very difficult battles. After New Georgia, the Marines moved up the island chain to Guam, where Dad, a First Lieutenant in the first Battalion, Fourth Marines, who was elevated to Captain in the LST as it approached the landing, led "A" Company during the bloody recapture of Guam. A book on that battle described the following:
"'Under cover of a heavy mortar barrage, and supported by machine guns, the enemy surged through a draw toward Company A's lines. Led by an officer carrying a flag on a bamboo pole, shouting men swung Samurai swords and threw hand grenades with good results. The momentum of the assault carried some of the enemy almost to the artillery positions, only 400 yards from the beach, where artillerymen halted the attackers. The fierce fighting in this sector was costly to both sides. Marines counted over 200 Japanese dead in the morning, but one platoon of Company A had been reduced to four men. Regiment did not have replacements available, and the company participated in the remainder of the Guam campaign with only two platoons.'
"After Guam came Okinawa, a pitched battle where Dad, after the Battalion skipper was killed, took over the entire Battalion until the General in charge of the operation found out that a mere Captain was running the show and sent a more senior officer to take over command. Later during that same engagement, Dad was seriously wounded in the leg by Japanese artillery just months before the end of the war, and spent a long time in recovery at Mare Island Naval Hospital among other stops.
"Several Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and many other commendations behind him, he retired from the Corps due to his injury, but it never left him. He once told me that he would have stayed in the Marines had he not been so badly wounded. He never talked about his experiences in the South Pacific, and when he did it was often about the great leaders he served under like Col. Clay Boyd and General Sam Griffith.
"Although he had a successful business life in running farms, feedlots, livestock and ranches, and served in the State Legislature in Colorado for nearly 20 years, my Dad regretted having to give up the Marines, saying, 'It was the one thing that I was really good at.' I know that wasn't really true, but what he meant I think is that he was really good at leading men in tough conditions, which became so clear to me, my brother and my Mom over the years as many of his fellow Marines, including many enlisted men who served under my Dad, passed through Denver and always stopped in to say hello. While under our roof, or at other times like the time in law school when I drove down to Quantico with Dad to attend a Raider reunion, these men would always take me aside and regale me with stories about how Dad was such a superb Marine officer.
"Sad as it is to say, on this Memorial Day in 2009, Dad is in the grips of Alzheimer's, so he isn't able to share memories of the valiant sacrifices he and his fellow Marines and other servicemen made during WWII, but I'll not forget them."
Send an e-mail to Hovey Kemp.
Is there someone in the military who you would like to celebrate? If so, please tell us your story.
Featured in the Summer 2009 Goodwin Procter Connections Newsletter