Wolves Honor Armed Forces On Military Night
Web Editorial Assistant
Master Sgt. Rich Kemp of Brooklyn Park now dons a personalized jersey that reads the same No. 9 as his favorite player, Ricky Rubio. Kemp was honored as part of Military Night during the Friday matchup between the Timberwolves and Indiana Pacers.
Wolves assistant coach Terry Porter presented Kemp with the jersey, which he wore proudly at the game after switching out of his uniform.
Kemp is a member of the Joint Force Headquarters, Minnesota National Guard. In 1981, he enlisted and joined the Minnesota National Guard and became a full-time member of the Guard in 1989. He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division in 2009.
“It made me pretty proud to serve there and see the Red Bulls take command and control of the whole southern part of Iraq while we were there,” Kemp said of his deployment to Iraq.
Kemp has been a dedicated member of the Guard for many years and has had to learn to transition between deployment and life at home.
“When you’re deployed, when you’re done with your day, you put in long days, but when you’re done, you’re done,” he said. “When I came back home, I realized how tough my wife had it with taking care of the kids every day. When you get home from work, your day’s not done for many hours, so that was a big transition, just getting back into the hustle and bustle of every day life.”
Kemp also travels around Minnesota as part of the Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs department.
“Our public affairs staff maintains a website and we manage all of our social media, write stories, take photos, and produce a radio show that goes on once a week, so it’s pretty busy.”
However, when he’s not serving, Kemp enjoys spending time with his family.
“My nephews are pretty jealous,” Kemp said of his new jersey. He and his family caught an epic Wolves win on Friday, but Kemp said he can’t wait to see his fellow #9 Rubio back on the court.
As part of Military Night, the Timberwolves donated 4,000 tickets to members of the Armed Forces and their families. The evening featured a pre-game military swear-in, and also a moment of silence to pay tribute to the 95 service members from Minnesota who have died in combat since 9/11.
The pre-game procession culminated with a Military Color Guard presentation honoring each branch of the military, and a video message from the players to the troops.
Senior Airman Alexander Oswald of Coon Rapids, Minnesota was also honored as part of Military Night. Oswald is currently deployed in Southwest Asia, and addressed the audience with a video message. His father, Doug, girlfriend, Chrissy, and the rest of his family were recognized on the court and were excited to attend their first Timberwolves game in Oswald’s honor.
“We miss him. He’s in his third week so far,” Doug said.
“But he’s going to be back in January!” Oswald’s nephew added.
Operation: Heroes Month is presented by the Roger and Nancy McCabe Foundation and POPP Communications. Operation: Heroes Month serves to honor and recognize Minnesota troops and their families. The FastBreak Foundation works to ensure that those servicemen and women from Minnesota who dutifully serve their country at home and abroad have the opportunity to be recognized by the Timberwolves and their fans.