Injury Averted Kemp's Active Duty

August 19, 1996

Injury Averted Kemp's Active Duty

In 1961, the Pentagon determined that Jack Kemp was unfit for active duty due to a shoulder injury, the same year that he led the San Diego Chargers to a division title, the New York Times reported.

Kemp was a private in the Army Reserve when his unit was called to active duty during the Berlin Crisis.

The quarterback who passed for 2,686 yards and threw 15 touchdowns that year was deemed unfit for military service due to a football injury sustained one month prior to his unit activation date.

An Army physical showed that Kemp suffered from swelling and muscle spasms in his left shoulder, and his range of motion was limited to 80 percent. Some Army doctors suggested Kemp be excused from service because of the injury. After a second physical, the Army surgeon general made the final decision to exempt Kemp.

Kemp joined the Army Reserve in 1958 and spent a year on active duty as a private before beginning his professional football career with the Chargers. When President Kennedy called for additional troop support after the erection of the Berlin Wall, Kemp was a member of the San Diego based 977th Transportation Company.

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