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In Memoriam

Major Willy "Birdseed" Kempe

Major Willy "Birdseed" Kempe

20 February 1988

Visitor Comments

"Waco Willy"
JP Brooks, Jan 22, 2011 - 05:53 PM

Willy was a great pilot and a great marathon runner. He was in tremendous shape and kept himself thin/fit. It is probable that he had a lower B-Pressure count as well hence, the G-lock that may have affected his last flight on the Luke South TAC range. Willy was one of the best I knew. He always in his quiet way would love all things about fighter jets. I still remember the day we drank a beer to him at the "Bullshooter" just outside the East Gate at Carswell AFB. Col. Fred Flom (7+ years in Hanoi) toasted Willy with a choking voice. No that from a man who endured tremendous torture at the hands of his captors. We all felt the same.

Snorkel Willy
george eckes, Feb 26, 2012 - 06:06 PM

Willy was my best friend (and roommate) aboard the Saratoga and ashore in Va beach. We were both RIOs in VF 103. Without question he was bigger than life and the greatest hell raiser I ever knew in 21 years of service.

Jay Cary, Jan 10, 2013 - 04:46 AM

Willy was my friend and mentor when I was a young Lt. at Tinker. I stayed at Willy's house in Grapevine when I wasn't working. When Willie wasn't flying the DC-10 or flying at Tinker or then at Luke, we would go to Esparza's or ski on Lk. Grapevine. Willy introduced me to Rob Tucker and the three of us skied on Lk. Grapevine together numerous times. I had just returned to Willy's house from a ski trip out West when Ron Reagan (Gov) called me to inform me that Willy's jet had gone down the day before. Most of the Squadron went to Washington for Willy's service-this was a blur. I saw Rob Tucker there- he was going to fly the missing man formation for Willy's funeral. Sadly, Rob's F-16 crashed in October at Carswell. I had the greatest respect for Willy and Rob and they were my friends. My friends today could not hold a candle to these men. There is a special bond between those that have done this job. I miss these guys. Willy's brother gave me Willy's framed Keith Ferris art print of two F-16's fighting air-to-air. This is the only picture that hangs in my home. I think of Willy every time that I look at that picture. He was a great person and he is missed. Jay.

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