UNC alumnus serves in Iraq
July 15, 2009
BAGHDAD- Maj. Robert "Bert" Kemp III, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Class of '93, is serving in Iraq with the North Carolina National Guard's 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team.
Kemp is the judge advocate general with the nearly 4,000 member brigade and has been a Guardsman since spring 2001. "I wanted to give back as a citizen, [then] six months later, 9-11 [happened] and my whole world changed," he said.
Born in Henderson, N.C. in 1971 and raised in Oxford, N.C., Kemp enrolled at UNC in 1989 and graduated law school at Wake Forest University in 1996. "Even as a little boy in 3rd grade I wanted to go to Chapel Hill," said Kemp.
He supervises the brigade legal office at Forward Operating Base Falcon, south of Baghdad.
Kemp leads staff, reviews legal documents such as Soldiers' wills and power of attorneys, and represents the command in legal proceedings.
"Running an office you have to delegate, identify (Soldiers') talents and match them to the job," said Kemp.
The realities of Iraq must be taken in to account, "you are in a combat zone, take a deep breath and do not get too anxious," said Kemp. "Schedules are made but not [always] kept."
Lessons he learned as an UNC undergrad aid him in his military career. "In school I learned time management, how to use time wisely," he explained. "You have to set priorities to succeed in college and the military."
Many of the staff officers he works with are recent graduates of other North Carolina colleges and universities, which is a source of friendly rivalry. "It's healthy but in the end there can only be one," said Kemp, "Chapel Hill."
UNC also holds a special attraction for his family. "I enjoy watching UNC football games with my son and wife," he said, "and while I am gone my brother will be taking them to the games."
He is on leave as the public defender for Pitt County for this, his second deployment. "Being a state employee lets me serve; I can train and deploy without worrying about my job," said Kemp.