GREEN BERETS Kemmer, Thomas J.

John Robertson

Staff member
Thomas J.
  • UNIT
6 SF Group (Company B)
  • RANK
Master Sergeant
Distinguished Service Cross
North Vietnam 1970 (Son Tay)
born 21.4.1931 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
son of Thomas and Rose Flaherty Kemmer
entered service 1.3.1949 Miami, Florida
Battery C, 125th Field Artillery Bn
Mortar Battery,504th Airborne Infantry Regiment 1952
Company B,5th Special Forces Group 1960
completed US Naval Underwater School, Key West, Florida 1962
MACV Advisor, Vietnam
WIA 16.7.1963 Can Tho, South Vietnam
Fort Bragg 1965
completed HALO course 1967
5th Special Forces Group (Det A-502) (Sgt) (Vietnam)
Company B, 6th Special Forces Group 1970
retired 31.3.1977 as Command Sergeant Major, 5th SF Group
awards include D.S.C., Bronze Star with 2 oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
married Judy (nee Hollingsworth) (1944-2015) (4 children)
died 29.6.2009 Oak Island, North Carolina
Guilford Memorial Park, Greensbro, North Carolina, USA


Distinguished Service Cross : The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Master Sergeant Thomas J. Kemmer, United States Army, for extraordinary gallantry in action on 21 November 1970 as a member of an all-volunteer joint United States Army and Air Force raiding force organized by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to conduct a heliborne assault in a heroic effort to rescue United States military personnel held as prisoners of war at Son Tay prison in North Vietnam. After debarking from the assault helicopter which crash-landed inside the prison compound, Sergeant Kemmer aggressively maneuvered to secure and clear his preplanned position. Immediately upon reaching his position, he faced a sudden attack of North Vietnamese soldiers moving from the north area of the compound in an apparent attempt to reinforce the east gate area. With complete disregard for his life, Sergeant Kemmer remained at his exposed and unconcealed position and fearlessly engaged the attacking enemy with his rifle. Sergeant Kemmer then unhesitatingly continued his preplanned task of searching and clearing a key cell block. Sergeant Kemmer's bold and courageous actions were an inspiration to his comrades and contributed immeasurably to the successful execution of the raid. His extraordinary gallantry in action is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit on him and the United States Army.


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