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April 18, 2011

Spc Joseph "Joe" Cemper, 101st Airborne, Warrensburg, Missouri Killed in Afghanistan

Spc Joseph Cemper

Spc. Joseph B Cemper

Joseph B. Cemper

November 15, 1989 - April 16, 2011

Spc. Joseph Brian Cemper of Ft. Campbell, KY. was killed in action April 16th at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Afghanistan. He was 21.

Born in Omaha, NE, November 15, 1989 to Eugene B. and Angela D. Cemper. Joseph joined the Army in 2009 and served with distinction in the 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.
Joseph embodied a unique combination of character traits: leadership, charisma, humility, honor, heroism and an insatiable need to serve his country. He conducted his life and executed his duty staying true to those ideals. Those fortunate to have met Joseph may never again know a man with a bigger heart, or a more caring soul. Having paid the ultimate price in the service of his country, we take solace in the fact that he is with the Heavenly Father. Joseph's sense of duty to God and Country are evidenced by his numerous accomplishments.
His awards and decorations include: Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal and Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct Medal.
Joseph is survived by his parents Eugene B. and Angela D. Cemper;
Fiancé, Abbie Lynne Wernimont, and his son Liam;
his brothers, Joshua and Noah Cemper; sisters Rachel, Lydia and Leah Cemper;
Grandmother Cheryl Kurtz of Papillion, NE;
Grandparents Dave and Karen Galaska of Omaha, NE;
Grandparents Eugene and Sunny Cemper of Omaha, NE;
Uncle Chad Kurtz and his wife Ann; cousins Naomi and Nathanael of Denver, CO;
Uncle Cory Kurtz and his wife Susan; cousins Jonah and Avigail of Omaha, NE;
Uncle Brian Kreager and his wife Jennifer; cousins, Jocelyn, Lauren, Delaney, and Gavin of Duluth, MN;
Uncle Hogan Cemper, Omaha. NE;
Uncle Michael Cemper and his wife Ramona; cousin Tanner of Cardiff by the Sea, CA.
Extended family includes the United States Army – 101st Airborne Division, Ft. Campbell, KY.

Funeral Services Friday April 29 at 11:00 am Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, 7706 So. 96th St., LaVista, NE., Visitation Thursday April 28 at Kahler-Dolce Mortuary, 441 No. Washington St. Papillion, NE., from 1-8 pm. Interment at Cedar Dale Cemetery, Papillion, NE.,
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the "Memorial for SPC. Joseph Cemper to Benefit Liam J. Cemper" at any Wells Fargo Bank.
Arrangements under the direction of Kahler Dolce Mortuary, Papillion, NE.

Soldier to be Buried in Omaha Area

By Susan Szalewski

World-Herald Staff Writer

The family of 21-year-old Army soldier Joseph Cemper, who was killed over the weekend in Afghanistan, plans to bring his body to the Omaha area for burial.
Relatives were traveling Sunday to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to receive his body. Details of Cemper’s death had not yet been released by the government.
Members of Nebraska’s Patriot Guard Riders will escort Cemper’s family and his remains for funeral services, said Scott Knudsen, state captain of the Patriot Guard Riders.
Cemper’s family lived in the Omaha area before moving to Warrensburg, Mo., where he went to high school. His parents are Eugene and Angie Cemper. The family still has relatives in the Omaha area.
Cemper’s high school friends received news of his death Sunday through Internet connections. “It’s terribly tragic,” said Rhonda Gelbach of Warrensburg. Her son Austin wrestled with Cemper in high school.
Rhonda Gelbach said she remembered how Cemper’s little sisters played with him in between wrestling matches, climbing on him “like he was a jungle gym.”
“And he would never, never mind them doing that,” Gelbach said. “They would be on him like glue.”
She said of Cemper’s death, “A lot of people are really devastated over it.”
Cemper recently became a father and was to be married to his high school sweetheart in June, Gelbach said.
Funeral services were pending.
Contact the writer:

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of Army Specialist Joseph Cemper's family, friends and fellow soldiers of the 101st Airborne deployed in Afghanistan.
"All Give Some, Some Give All"
Class of 1973 WHS

PAPILLION, Neb. — The city of Papillion will rename a street for the late Army Spec. Joseph Cemper, a native son who died last April in Afghanistan. The 21-year-old Cemper (SEHM'-pur) and four other soldiers were killed on April 16 when a man posing as an Afghan soldier detonated several grenades, killing himself as well.
Cemper grew up in Papillion, moving from Nebraska to Warrensburg, Mo., before he began high school.
Omaha television station KETV ( ) reports that a sign will soon bear his name at the corner of Rousseu Court and Parc Drive in the city south of Omaha.
A ceremony to unveil the sign will take place Friday morning at the intersection. The public is welcome to attend.
Information from: KETV-TV,

WHS grad dies in Afghanistan - Warrensburg High School

Apr 19, 2011, 8:55 AM

Joseph Cemper is pictured here with girlfriend Abbie and his month-old son, Liam. (Photo Courtesy of Google Images)
WARRENSBURG, Mo.-- A 2008 graduate of Warrensburg High School has been killed in Afghanistan. Army Specialist Joseph Cemper, 21, was killed over the weekend.
Spc. Cemper was one of five men who died April 16 at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an Afghan National Army soldier attacked them with multiple grenades.
The Defense Department said he was assigned to the 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, from Fort Campbell, Ky.
He had been in the Army about two years and was assigned to a combat team.
Cemper grew up in Nebraska, attending school in Papillion, before moving to Missouri.
He was a wrestler at Warrensburg High School.
Family members told an Omaha TV station Cemper was recently in the U.S., following the birth of his child, Liam, March 15. His girlfriend, Abby Lynne Wernimont, is from Warrensburg.
He had only been in Afghanistan for a few weeks.
Family members have flown to Dover, Del., to be there when his body is returned. They say Cemper wished to be laid to rest in the Omaha area

Staff Sgt. Carl Eitzen
Staff Sgt. Carl Eitzen, trumpeter for the USAF Heartland of America Band, performs "Americans We" with Offutt Brass at a ceremony honoring the late Army Specialist Joseph Cemper. 
Offutt Brass Honors Fallen Local Hero

by Senior Airman Greg Pflugh
USAF Heartland of America Band

8/11/2011 - Papillion, NE -- Approximately 150 people gathered on a rainy Friday at Carriage Hill Elementary School in Papillion, NE to honor a fallen American hero. Army Specialist Joseph Cemper was remembered at a memorial ceremony effectively renaming Rousseau Ct. in Papillion to Spc. Joseph Cemper Ct., the street on which he was raised.
Cemper, a Papillion native who followed his father's footsteps into the U.S. Army, was killed in action on April 16 along with four other soldiers when an Afghan National Army soldier attacked him with multiple grenades. His wish was to be buried in his hometown where he excelled as a youth on the wrestling mat, on the baseball diamond, and the football field.
Papillion Mayor David Black presided over the ceremony, which was also attended by Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy and Major General William F. Grimsley, the highest ranking Army officer in Nebraska and the chief of staff at U.S. Strategic Command based at Offut Air Force Base, NE.
Offutt Brass of the USAF Heartland of America band did their part in honoring the late Cemper by providing music both prior to the event and afterwards, as well as playing a stirring rendition of the National Anthem.

A Fallen Soldier Remembered: Hundreds expected at Friday's funeral

Posted: Apr 26, 2011 2:41 AMUpdated: Apr 29, 2011 2:33 AM
Shelley Russell
PAPILLION, NEB. (KPTM) - Mayor David Black encourages all Papillion residents to lower their flags half-mast on Friday in honor of a fallen soldier.
The body of 21-year old Army Specialist Joseph Cemper returned home Monday. His funeral is scheduled for Friday, April 29 at 11:00 AM. It will be held at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, located at 7706 South 96th Street in La Vista. Burial will immediately follow at Cedar Dale Cemetery in Papillion.
Cemper was assigned to the 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. He was killed after an Afghan soldier attacked him with grenades, an attack that also killed ten others.
Cemper's body and his family were escorted from Eppley Airfield to Kahler Dolce Funeral Home in Papillion.
Hundreds of community members lined up along 84th Street to welcome the fallen soldier back home.
"I guess I don't know how to describe it," said Veteran Richard Gettner.
"We all signed the check. Some of us paid the ultimate price, and some of us made it home," said Gettner.
"I think it's important to be here to honor him and show respect for his family, and to show my children that we just need to support him," said Jenny Hoelscher, Papillion.
A memorial fund has been established for the Cemper family. You can donate by going to any Wells Fargo Bank and directing your donation to account number: 1330080639

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April 25th, 2011  Author: Michael Pratt
Army Spc. Joseph Cemper believed that serving his country “was something everyone needed to do” to be a good American, his former wrestling coach said .
Cemper was one of the four 101st Airborne Division soldiers killed Saturday in Afghanistan. They died April 16th, of wounds suffered when an Afghan National Army soldier attacked them with multiple grenades. Specialist Cemper was 21 years old.
The other victims of the attack were Capt. Charles E. Ridgley Jr. of Baltimore, Md., Sgt. 1st Class Charles L. Adkins of Sandusky, Ohio, Staff Sgt. Cynthia R. Taylor of Columbus, Ga. and Sgt. Linda L. Pierre of Immokalee, Fla.
Specialist Joseph Brian Cemper was working as a transportation management coordinator at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. He had only been there a few weeks after being in the US to see his new-born son.
Cemper’s awards and decorations include: Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal and Combat Action Badge.
Spc. Joseph B. Cemper of Warrensburg, Mo., will be remembered by his recruiter as someone who “fit with the Army, and the Army fit with him.”The recruiter would know. He’s Cemper’s father. “My son’s a hero.  Absolutely.”
In an interview this week with the Omaha World-Herald, Army Sgt. 1st Class Eugene Cemper recalled proudly snapping photos of his son taking his oath in Kansas City in 2009. After the swearing-in, father and son “just had the biggest smiles on our faces,” he said.
“He was a hard-charger, very competitive and he just was always stepping forward.  That’s the type of kid Joe was,” says Cemper’s father, Sgt. First Class Eugene Cemper.
The elder Cemper is a a recruiter for the US Army.  In fact, Eugene Cemper recruited his son.
“He joined and it was a very proud moment,” says Cemper.  ”I’m proud that he was doing exactly what he wanted to do.” Joe joined the family tradition.
“We love this country.  I love the United States Army and my kids will tell you it’s what my passion was and I take great pride and honor knowing that they took the same pride and passion.”
Cemper talked to his son just one day before the attack. “I never asked him much for the details.  That wasn’t one thing I needed to cloud his head with the details and so my way, that I did it, short and sweet, short and sweet.  ‘I love you Joe.’”
His father knows Joe was a great soldier.
“When you pay that ultimate sacrifice, honestly, in the back of our minds [it's] the greatest thing you could possibly ever do and our family is going to hurt, but that’s what’s being a soldier is about.”
Cemper, so proud of his son. “He’s a great man.  He’s a great man.  A hero.  That’s how he will be forever known.”
The younger Cemper, died April 16 when a member of the Afghan National Army, who allegedly was a “sleeper agent” for the Taliban, walked into a meeting of NATO trainers at a forward base and detonated a vest of explosives.
Earlier this week, a bipartisan congressional delegation led by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) attended a memorial service for six U.S. servicemembers killed in Afghanistan last weekend supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  The service, held at Bagram Airfield, included General David Petraeus, U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and hundreds of friends and soldiers.
Army Spc. Joseph Cemper, believed that serving his country “was something everyone needed to do” to be a good
American, his former wrestling coach said Monday. “Joe felt everyone needed to serve some way and that the military was his best opportunity,” said Don Schreimann of Warrensburg, Mo.
Cemper is the third member of the military with Nebraska or Iowa ties to die in Afghanistan during the past week. At least four others have been seriously wounded in the spate of violence seemingly connected to the Taliban’s annual spring offensive.
The news of Cemper’s death hit Schreimann like a punch in the gut Saturday, while he was at a youth wrestling meet. Schreimann coached Cemper during his four years in high school and at the University of Central Missouri, where Schreimann was an assistant coach.
“It really hit me hard because Joe and my son, Dan, got to be really good friends in high school,” Schreimann said. Cemper graduated from Warrensburg High School in 2008 and qualified for the state wrestling tournament as a senior, Schreimann said. He also was a two-year starter in football.
“He was the type of kid that always had a smile on his face — everybody’s friend,” he said.
Schreimann, who teaches a freshman civics class, said he has already begun using Cemper’s example of service in his teaching. “I want the students to understand the quality of person that joins the U.S. military,” he said, “and Joe was really a shining example of that.”
Here are some comments made by friends and others who wanted to show their respect to this American Hero.:
Great Grandson, A Grandson, A Son, A Husband, A Father, A Brother, A Nephew, A
Linda Eaton
To the family of Joseph Cemper:  With heart felt sympathy and gratitude to Joseph for his
service to his country. His sacrifice for our great nation is felt by so many–those who knew
him and those who knew of him. My son is at FOB Sharana now and told me of Joseph’s
death. He knew him from high school. Our son was deeply upset by the news. Words cannot
adequately express the loss of your son. Please know that you’re in our thoughts and
prayers during this difficult time..
Cemper is survived by his son, Liam Jerome Cemper of North Richland Hills, Texas. and his parents, Eugene B. Cemper and Angela D. Cemper of North Richland Hills, Texas. He is also survived by his high school sweetheart, Abbie Lynne Wernimont. They were to be married in June.
Cemper’s parents, Eugene and Angela Cemper, lived in Papillion before moving to Warrensburg. The family still has relatives in the Omaha area.
Family members traveled Sunday to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to retrieve Cemper’s body. Services were pending. The family plans to bring his body to the Omaha area for burial. Members of Nebraska’s Patriot Guard Riders will escort Cemper’s family and his remains for funeral services.

An Air Force carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Army Spc. Joseph B. Cemper, center, as transfer cases con taining t

From The Daily Star-Journal  ‘MILES’ VENTIMIGLIA
Star-Journal Editor

Parents say family huge in son's life
Warrensburg – Key points about how Army Spec. Joseph Cemper, 21, Warrensburg, died, are now public. Cemper served with the 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, in eastern Afghanistan. In a tragedy similar to numerous others played out since the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, a murderer Saturday attacked Cemper and others at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Nangarhar Province.
Wearing explosives hidden under an Afghan National Army uniform – as opposed to fighting honorably in the uniform of the people he is believed to have represented, Muslim fanatics from the Taliban regime – the man blew himself to hell. In addition to murdering himself, he murdered Cemper; four other Americans, two of them women; four Afghan soldiers; and an interpreter.
These facts about Cemper being surrounded by Americans and others working to nurture the tenuous birth of freedom in a land once dominated by a homicidal theocracy tell about how he died.
Cemper’s parents, Eugene and Angela Cemper, revealed Thursday how he lived – as a young man bound to friends and family.
A native of Papillion, Neb., Joseph enjoyed the company of others and participating in sports.
“He played competitive baseball and he played football and soccer and everything up in Papillion and when we got down to Warrensburg, he just continued to march,” Eugene said. “He was one of these kids who didn’t care how big you were or how loud you were, and even if he was smaller than you, he would still go right up against you and butt heads. That’s the way he was.”
Being an Army sergeant and recruiter, Eugene had an opportunity to work in Warrensburg and discussed the idea of leaving Papillion with his family.
“When we first decided to take on that gig, we all sat down as a family and I explained it would be the hardest process we’d ever go through, but ... we would be just fine,” he said.
Eugene worked for a year in Warrensburg before moving the family to the community, which put Joseph in a new high school. The change did not seem to bother Joseph, Eugene said.
“Joseph was always highly competitive, energetic, always had a smile regardless of any roadblocks,” he said.
In Warrensburg, Joseph stood our in wrestling.
“He loved wrestling. I started coaching him and my other son when they were 5 and 6 years old. He really enjoyed being out there on the mat mano-y-mano and that’s just the way it was,” he said.
Joseph’s competitive spirit blended with an easy-going style of interacting socially.
“I don’t think the boy had any enemies, and if he did, they weren’t his enemy for very long,” Eugene said.
Several people in Warrensburg, including wrestling coach Steve Marr, talked about Joseph bringing a sense of family to his relationships with friends and team members. Eugene said family meant everything to Joseph.
“His happiest times were when we were all together, whether we were just being stupid, hanging out in the backyard and having a barbecue, or anything like that,” Eugene said. “And look at what he’s doing now – he’s bringing the entire family together.”
About two months before the Cemper family learned they would transfer to the Fort Worth, Texas, area, Joseph followed in Eugene’s footsteps by entering the Army.
“I used to call him my clone,” Eugene said, not only because of going into the Army, but based of general similarities. “Our voices are the same. We used to have fun – when I answered the phone at home, they’d think I was him.”
Joseph’s recruitment came with an understanding of risks.
“Ever since 9-11, anyone who joins, you always have that feeling in the back of your mind: ‘There’s a possibility I’m going somewhere.’ And those are the things we talked about and he said, ‘Dad, that’s what I want.’ I was very, very proud the day he enlisted in the United States Army.”
For many, boot camp is a time of personal challenge that pushes some people to their limits, but Eugene said Joseph arrived ready to overcome whatever obstacles he faced.
“It was nice that we were able to share that common experience in our lives,” Eugene said. “I always told him, ‘You have to give it everything you’ve got and you go until you can’t go anymore, because that way when you complete basic training, you’ll be complete – you won’t feel like you left anything out there – and that’s exactly how he attacked it.
“He was there to complete the mission. There was never any quit.”
Eugene said Joseph did not express anxiety about drawing duty in Afghanistan.
“We talked about that a lot. He was very excited about the opportunity that we was going to have. I had deployed before and he said, ‘All right, Dad, I’m matching you now. I’m going to finish the job you started.”
Before being a recruiter, Eugene served the Army in Desert Storm.
“He was actually an infant when I was there and it’s kind of ironic that he was going back to Afghanistan and he now had a small child.”
On Joseph’s last visit, in March, he got to see his high school sweetheart, 2008 Warrensburg High School graduate Abbie Lynn Wernimont, and their infant son, Liam Jerome Cemper, born March 15.
“She’s part of our family,” Eugene said.
Joseph never lived with the family in Texas, but got to visit.
“He fished in the creek out behind the house here and he caught some catfish. He loved fishing.”
While in Afghanistan, Joseph used social networking to communicate with family.
“I gave him the old Dad pep speeches, you know, you’ll get through and find your happy place – all the important things as far as being deployed – and I let everybody else have all the sweet talk. ... I always ended with saying I love you.”
Joseph’s mother, Angie, said that while in Warrensburg, the family attended First Baptist Church. Joseph had a saying that reflected his beliefs, she said.
“Anybody who played football or any sports with Joe in Warrensburg will know it, and it’s, ‘When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say that I used everything you gave me.’ That was kind of the quote that Joseph lived by,” she said. “He had that on his bedroom wall the whole time that we lived in Warrensburg.”
Eugene said Joseph returned to Afghanistan with a goal.
“Before he left this last time for Afghanistan, he said, ‘Dad, I’m going to get a Bronze Star.’ And you know what? He did it.”
Near the end of his final visit to Texas, Angie said, she talked with her son.
“We sat down and I said to Joseph ... ‘If it comes to that, are you ready to meet your Maker?’ And he says, ‘You know, Ma, I am. That’s why I’m not afraid to go back.’”
Angie said before he left she slipped a note into his wallet.

“It’s from a children’s book, and it’s, ‘I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.’ And I’d hide it so he would find it when he got to wherever he was going.”


Anonymous said...

As a neighbor to Joseph's parents, I am deeply saddened for their loss. I pray for this family at this tragic time.

I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

Thank you Joseph, you mission is complete Sir!

Anonymous said...

honor the fallen

Anonymous said...

I went to school with Joe from k-8. I will never forget his beautiful smile and his bubbly personality. GOD BLESS JOSEPH B. CEMPER. You will be missed from your friends back in Papio!

Anonymous said...

I went to high school with Joe, and I can't say how much of an impact he had on me and those around him. He was a champion of spirit and heart, living his life to the fullest and enjoying what he loved every day of his life. He will be eternally missed by all. Carry on, Joe, and may you find rest on the other side. I'll be sure to see you again when I get there.

Anonymous said...

The Warrensburg Community is grieving for all of your families. Your hearts are close to us and there is such a sense of sadness and also honor for your fallen hero. This has been very sad news in our small town-it is shocking. Joe will not be forgotten. His family will always be close to heart.
Prayers and Blessings to his loved ones.No words could offer sufficient comfort for your loss-just know that many well-wishes and much love is sent your way!