Plymouth County

Cpl. John "Jack" Kempker





Cpl. John Kempker Is War Victim

Cpl. Jack (John) Kempker, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Kempker of LeMars and grandson of Mrs. M. F. Kerwin of Carroll, was killed in action October 2, according to word received by his parents yesterday.  The message did not state where his death occurred, but when last heard from Cpl. Kempker was in Africa.

The twenty-one year old youth was well known in Carroll, where he was born, and attended St. Joseph’s School.  The family later moved to LeMars, where he was graduated from high school.

A memorial mass is to be held at 9:30 Wednesday morning at St. Joseph’s Church, LeMars, with Rt. Rev. Monsignor Fisch officiating.

Besides his parents, Cpl. Kempker leaves five brothers, four of whom are with the armed forces, and one sister, Mary Catherine, who is home with her parents.  His brothers are:  Sgt. Paul Kempker, Camp Gruber, Okla.; Lieut. Robert Kempker, a bombardier in England; Lieut. Edward Kempker, a bombardier in Iceland; Pvt. Gerald Kempker, in Hawaii, and Jimmy, a senior in the LeMars high school.

Source: Daily Times Herald, Carroll, Iowa, Oct. 23, 1943

Jack Kempker Killed In Action Overseas Oct 2

In African Campaign Enlisted With Co. K In February, 1941

Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Kempker of 715 First Street SE were notified Friday that their son, John C. Kempker, who joined the, army in February, 1941, and went to camp Claiborne with Co. K, had been killed in action. The telegram said: "The Secretary of War desires that I tender his deep sympathy in the loss of your son Cpl. John C. Kempker. He was killed in action October 2 in the North African area."—Adjutant General.

Jack, as he was known by all his friends, was the youngest of Mr. and Mrs. Kempker's five sons with the armed services. Two of his brothers, Lieut. Robert Kempker and Lieutenant Ed Kempker, are bombardiers with, the U. S. air forces in England. Staff Sergeant Paul Kempker is located at Camp Gruber in Oklahoma and Gerald is a tail gunner on a bomber stationed in Hawaii.

John C. Kempker was born in Carroll Iowa, August 14, 1922, and moved to Le Mars with his parents seven years ago. He attended St. Joseph school and graduated from that institution in 1940. He is survived by his parents, the four brothers in the army, one brother, James, and one sister, Mary, at home.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, Oct. 26, 1943

Had One Once But Lost It When “He Took Vacation”

S. Sgt. Cy Groetken, who was wounded three times in this war and who also froze his feet while fighting in Italy, arrived home Thursday afternoon to spend a 21-day furlough in the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Groetken, 500 Second Ave, SE.

Known as the “most wounded man” in K company, S. Sgt. Groetken has a war record that places him in the hero’s class. He wants to forget all about his past experiences on the battlefields and doesn’t even want to talk about them.

His war citations include about every kind of medal except the good conduct one, but he had one of them, too, at one time. He wears the Purple Heart with two clusters; the Silver Star citation for extraordinary heroism on the field of battle; infantry man’s badge and other war citations. The lapel of his coat covers the Silver Star decoration completely.

In regard to the good conduct medal, he lost it this way. After a battle in Africa, he wanted a short leave to get a little rest. This was denied him, but he took it anyway and when he reported back to the front lines, he was demoted and also had the good conduct medal removed from his chest. However, he has regained his rating as staff sergeant, and as far as the good conduct bar is concerned, he’s going to forget it.

The Silver Star was awarded the young man following the battle at Cassino. He was wounded in this fight. He also received wounds in Africa, and another wound at Leghorn, Italy.

He was wounded by the same shell that killed Jack Kempker and Robert Vanderwal in Italy. He said that he was off to the side of these two boys when the shell landed and said that he believed that Jack Kempker died from concussion.

He still carried fragments of shrapnel in his body. There are pieces still embedded in his legs which the doctors told him would gradually work out. While at home Friday, he felt a stinging pain in his right arm. He rolled up his sleeve and picked at the elbow. It was a small piece of shrapnel which had worked to the surface of the skin, and he removed it himself.

After completing his furlough he will report to an Army base in this country, where he will be reassigned to duty in the United States.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, December 25, 1944