Dempich, Kenneth L.
Dempich, Kenneth L.
Kenneth L. Dempich
Kenneth was born in Dearborn, Michigan, on July 11, 1945, and grew up in Lincoln Park, Michigan. After finishing high school, he worked in a supermarket. Kenneth was drafted in 1965, and after basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky and advanced training at Fort Lewis, Washington, Kenneth was shipped to Vietnam. His division went as a unit. The trip took 29 days, and at times the weather was very rough, with there even being a typhoon. The division's first location was Tuy Hoa, where they spent four months. They were then sent to Pleiku, near the Cambodian border. Kenneth described having experienced heavy fighting in both locations. He received his first Purple Heart on May 1, 1967 because of shrapnel, and his second exactly one month later. "Friendly Fire" caused deafness when an artillery shell exploded near his location. Although Kenneth served near and next to soldiers who were exposed to Agent Orange, he has been found to have not had any symptoms to this day. Kenneth returned to his supermarket job after his military service, but he eventually went to school to study accounting. His specialty was payroll, and he ended up working for several different companies. Because of his multiple injuries, he retired in 2001. Since his retirement, Kenneth has been a volunteer at local schools. He was married for 39 years, divorcing in 2010. Kenneth talked a great deal about his "blood brother," with whom he pledged to "trade" blood if or when needed. His unit has a reunion every two years. This year, the reunion will be in Tennessee, and in 2012 the reunion will be in Washington, D.C. He is looking forward to visiting Washington, D.C., since he has never had the opportunity to visit the various military memorials there.
Dates of Service
Enlisted; United States Army Air Forces/Corps; 15th Air Force Group; World War, 1939-1945; Second World War - European Theater; Staff Sergeant; Prisoner of War
Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress