Lieutenant Colonel Michael R. Kempf enlisted in the Marine Corps on 1 May 1996 in Buffalo NY, where he then proceeded to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, Platoon 3154, and graduated on 15 November 1996. After attending Marine Combat Training on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina he went to M1A1 Basic Crewmen’s Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Upon completion of the schooling, PFC Kempf was assigned to Bravo Company 8th Tank Battalion out of Syracuse, New York. During his six years as an Abrams Crewman, he filled several positions including Tank Commander and Tank Commander Gunnery Skills Instructor while simultaneously completing his Bachelor of Science degree in education from Buffalo State College.
At the conclusion of his reserve commitment he attended Officer Candidate School, Class 182, in Quantico, Virginia where he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 23 March 2003. Second Lieutenant Kempf attended The Basic School where he became designated as a Naval Flight Student and proceeded to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. He was winged as a Naval Aviator in May 2005, and reported to Navy Electronic Attack Training Squadron 129 (VAQ-129), Whidbey Island, Washington for EA-6B training.
Captain Kempf completed Prowler training in October 2006, and was assigned to Marine Electronic Attack Squadron 2 (VMAQ-2) aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. While a part of the “Death Jesters” Captain Kempf deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007 and 2008 as well as held the billets of Admin Officer, Assistant Maintenance Officer, and Quality Assurance Officer. From March 2010 to March 2013, he was moved to VAQ-129 as a Fleet Replacement School Instructor where he served as the Student Control Officer, Maintenance Officer, Quality Assurance Officer, NATOPS Evaluator, Instructor Evaluator and Standardization Instructor.
After his tour at VAQ-129, Captain Kempf was selected to become the Electronic Warfare Officer within the Cyber Electronic Warfare Coordination Cell(CEWCC) with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aboard the USS Boxer from August of 2013 to March of 2014.
Major Kempf then returned to VMAQ-2 and completed a Unit Deployment to Iwakuni, Japan from January 2015 to June of 2015 as the VMAQ-2 Electronic Warfare Department Head before transitioning to Unmanned Aerial Systems. During his time at Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 (VMU-2) Major Kempf served as the squadron’s Maintenance Officer and Executive Officer.
On July 15, 2017, Major Kempf reported to Marine Aviation Headquarters Marine Corps Weapons Requirements Branch and served as the Unmanned Aerial Systems Cell lead. During his time at the Pentagon he was responsible for establishing the Marine Corps’ first MQ-9 “Reaper” in CENTCOM as well as managing the RQ-21 “Blackjack”, RQ-7 “Shadow”, MAGTF Unmanned Expeditionary (MUX) and Unmanned Logistics Support Activity Programs.
Lieutenant Colonel Kempf has over 1900 military flight hours. His decorations include (2) Meritorious Service Medals, Air Medal–Strike/Flight (10), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Achievement Medal with gold star, and various unit and campaign awards.