Wisconsin Army Ranger Dies On Base
Army Ranger Specialist Richard "Rick" Kemp died from brain injuries suffered in a parachuting accident months earlier, his family believes. Video by tmj4.comvideo
WEST BEND - Army Ranger Specialist Richard "Rick" Kemp served two deployments in Iraq after graduating from West Bend East High School in 2007. His family believes he died from brain injuries suffered in a parachuting accident months earlier.
"He was serving his country and accidents happen," the soldier's father, Richard Kemp, said.
At Richard and Phyllis Kemp's home in Jackson, a flag flew at half staff Thursday.
Their 22-year-old son died January 20.
"A gentle giant. He's almost 6'5"," Phyllis Kemp, told TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray. "Just an incredible person, incredible strength and fortitude."
His casket arrived in at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee on Thursday from Fort Lewis in Washington State.
Last May at Fort Lewis, the Kemps say their son's parachute did not open during a training jump.
"His chute didn't open all the way," Kemp's father said. "So, he did a spiral and landed on his head from 1,200 feet."
While Kemp survived that fall, he suffered severe headaches that sidelined him from duty.
"He had memory loss and couldn't sleep. That was going on since May," his mother said.
Fellow soldiers found Kemp collapsed and lifeless last week in his base housing.
The Kemps said Rick survived sniper fire and concussions on Iraqi front lines while carrying out classified missions with the elite 75th Ranger Regiment.
"His dream was to be a Ranger in special ops and he became one," Kemp's father said.
Kemp is also a hero to his high school physics teacher at West Bend East, Richard Prost.
"He loved his country and wanted to do something, not just make his life better, but the lives of everyone else," Prost said.
From Kemp's obituary:
Funeral Services will be held 12PM noon, Sat., Jan. 29, at Northbrook Church, 4017 Hwy 167 in Richfield, with Chaplain Major Derrick Murray officiating.
Visitation will be held Friday, Jan. 28, at the Phillip Funeral Home (1420 W. Paradise Dr. in West Bend), from 4-7PM, and again on Sat., Jan. 29, at Northbrook Church from 10AM until time of service.
Burial with full military honors will follow at Washington County Memorial Park.