Airway Pioneer Member
John P. Kemper

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I was born 2-22-24 a mile from what is now Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. I grew up there and graduated Anaheim Union High School in June 1941, the last class before WWII. I had been a radio amateur since 1939, and only 17, I wasn't eligible for the draft. So studying "electronics" or "radio", as it was known then, as much as I could, I applied to CAA and FCC for a radio operator position on my 18th birthday, the earliest one could at that time.

FCC came through first and on May 1, 1942, I reported to the FCC Monitoring station in Santa Ana CA at the hush-hush job of radio intelligence. (CAA came through 4 months later with a job in the Mojave Desert, which I declined). I stayed with FCC RID until I entered the U. S. Army Signal Intelligence on December 27, 1943. After basic, I was assigned to the 115th Signal Radio Intelligence Company. It was our job to intercept and decode Japanese radio messages. For reasons unknown, I had a knack for Japanese Kata Kana Morse Code and worked the heavily trafficked Army Transport circuits. I was selected to teach "Kana" to new recruits and particularly when the Japanese changed their code in early 1945. I was copying the Hiroshima-Singapore circuit when "Fat Man" was dropped.

When the war ended, I returned to FCC as the RID was beginning to decommission. FCC gave us "monitoring officers" a civil service exam, which I fortunately passed, and qualified as a Radio Engineer/Inspector. I was assigned to the FCC Los Angeles District Office in April 1946. Among my FCC duties, besides inspecting all FCC licensed stations in the District, I designed and built the first Radio Frequency Monitoring Vans (both VHF and Microwave) in the country. Because FAA didn't have radio frequency interference (RFI) location capability in the field, I was called on by the Western Region to help them find RFI to ILS, VOR and Comm frequently.

That led to my being offered a GS-12 with FAA at the Los Angeles R.O. in 1961, which I accepted, and a GS-13 a year later. I picked up my California Professional Engineering Registration along the way. I stayed with FAA in L. A. In 1971, I became Chief, Frequency Management and Leased Communications Staff, where I remained until my retirement 4-30-82.

But I couldn't stay away from aeronautics. FAA HQ contracted with me as a consultant. Since 1982 to this day (2001), I have written Orders, Technical Manuals, designed and taught Classes, designed and produced Direction Finding equipment for them, and am still doing it.

I feel as though I've never left.

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