Robert Kemble
Robert Kemble, manager of The Zone, loves to get outdoors and "enjoy Alaska." Although he oversees the operation of an indoor club that mainly caters to single Soldiers, he often encourages them to get outside and take advantage of being at one of the "best duty stations in the Army."

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Most of the Department of Defense civilians on Fort Wainwright are serious about the mission to support Soldiers, but there is a stand-out who embodies the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, especially when it comes to the single Soldier. When Robert Kemble isn't enjoying the great outdoors Alaska has to offer, one could say he is in the zone; The Warrior Zone that is.

Kemble manages the club on post where Soldiers can go after the work day, shoot pool, play video games, watch sports, have a burger and a beverage or just hang out. "We have twelve televisions hooked into to six different sports channels," he said. "Soldiers can come in here and watch football, basketball, golf or racing at the same time. We'll put on whatever they want to watch."

"Robert is managing The Warrior Zone seven-days-a-week with very limited staff," said Stephanie Jilek, community recreation officer, DFMWR. "While maintaining operations he continually has to come in early to receive orders that are delivered before his facility opens at 4 p.m. This also includes short notices from the Directorate of Public Works for repairs, as well as from units requesting to use the facility for events in the afternoon."

Kemble just considers it all part of the job and continually praises his staff for their hard work and dedication. When asked about the folks who contribute to the success of The Zone and cater to the 300 to 400 customers who visit daily, he did not want to leave anyone out.

"We run a seven-day-a-week operation with two bartenders and two cooks," he said. "Cindy Niemeyer is working six-days-a-week and is the backbone of our food business. Roderick Ethridge is also in the kitchen and his experience has made us better."

Jilek knows on most days Kemble is only one-person deep. "So if that person calls out, he has to fill the position," she said., "He supports his staff by constantly helping out with food orders in the snack bar or by bartending. No matter how overwhelming the work load becomes, Rob continues to push forward to get the job done to take care of the Soldiers."

Although Kemble says he helps out wherever he can, he said, "Minnie Ballard is the dedicated bartender who has the can-do spirit that is infectious and Teresa Travers will come in on short-notice or early, which frees me up to do other things."

The Warrior Zone is the one facility open every holiday and Kemble takes pride in having a place where single Soldiers can go.

"I believe it's because his facility is open evenings and weekends his efforts go un-noticed," Jilek said. But Kemble just shrugs it off as part of the business, giving credit to Dave Magar who runs the "gamer" side of things and felt remiss if he didn't mention Brandon Bras, "who no longer works for DFMWR, but was instrumental in setting up the gaming room."

"More than any other leader I work with, Rob reminds me on a regular basis that our work is about our Soldiers," said Christine Donovan, DFMWR customer service instructor. "He reminds me that the litmus test for our programs, marketing, and so many other day-to-day decisions should be whether or not this is enhancing the Soldiers' experience on Fort Wainwright. He takes the term "Soldier dollars" to heart, and feels that we should be offering great products and services at a value."

She also talked about how Kemble always speaks highly about the workers and their dedication to Soldiers. "He does not try to take the credit for the good work that happens at The Zone, but rather, he talks up his team and their unique skills," she said. "But he regularly goes above and beyond, working long hours and weekends to ensure that his customers have a better experience than they would without his dedication."

For Kemble, although the facility is "top-notch" the employees are his greatest asset. "If you take care of them, they will take care of you. They know we are here for the Soldiers, they are our mission and failure is not an option. We all love what we do."

Page last updated Fri July 12th, 2013 at 00:00