One with nature: SK2 Cody Kemp

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Cody Kemp pets his hound dog, Odin, at his home in Port Orchard, Wash., Feb. 16, 2017. Kemp, a storekeeper stationed with the 13th District, spends his weekends and holidays exploring new hiking trails, often accompanied by Odin and his other hound dog, Jedi. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Cody Kemp pets his hound dog, Odin, at his home in Port Orchard, Wash., Feb. 16, 2017.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi.

by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Cody Kemp’s love for the outdoors started around age 13 when his father began taking him on hiking trips. Daylong trips turned into weekend-long adventures and soon the pair was spending over ten days together during outings on the vast 120 trailheads of North Carolina’s Smokey Mountains. They finally found an activity that cemented their relationship and as Kemp grew up, so did his love for the outdoors.

“What I enjoy most about hiking is just getting away and seeing what nature has to offer,” said Kemp, a storekeeper (SK) stationed in the Coast Guard’s 13th District. “I really like to repeat trails because they change week to week, season to season. You can see one colorful trail in the fall but to see it change in winter to barren trees covered in snow is incredible.”

Kemp talks about most of his hikes fondly, although recalls rare occasions when he’s had to learn some of life’s hardest lessons while in the wilderness.

When Kemp was 16, he and his dad began hiking a trail in the Smokey Mountains during the cold season. Temperatures dipped to a chilly 30 degrees and everything was frozen. The pair camped out only a mile into the hike and spent the evening huddled back-to-back, shivering in the cold. The next morning they woke up to frozen provisions; eggs, steak, water. Everything was solid ice. Even the propane/butane mix they brought to heat their food froze and they realized they were very ill prepared. The two turned back and headed home, having learned a valuable lesson.

While the wilderness has taught Kemp a valuable lesson in being prepared, his job teaches him lessons on a daily basis. As a storekeeper, Kemp must be able to adapt quickly to new and continually changing Coast Guard environments.

At work, Kemp processes procurement requests, removes and records property, reconciles accounts and acts as a liaison with Coast Guard Base Seattle personnel for any of their financial needs. To put it simply, Kemp is the equivalent of an accountant. Some storekeepers work solely in warehouses, in procurement or with property, but Kemp does ‘a little bit of everything.’

SKs procure, store, preserve, and package supplies, spare parts, provisions, technical items and all other necessary supplies and services for Coast Guard units. They keep inventories, prepare requisitions and check incoming supplies. They utilize all types of office equipment, handle logistical functions and operate all types of material handling equipment, including forklifts and industrial-sized shredders.

“I enjoy the finance world, especially negotiating prices and working with other businesses,” said Kemp. “Some customer service at the district building is difficult because we have certain regulations we have to follow to meet the needs and requests of everybody. It’s hard to say no to personnel in higher pay grades than myself, but it’s important they understand how we work to do our job correctly.”

Kemp’s hard work and personable attitude rarely goes unnoticed. He’s received Sailor of the Quarter at his past two units and was awarded an Achievement Medal after being stationed in Kuwait with Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the United States, which was established in 2002 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

SKs can be stationed at many places throughout the Coast Guard, including shore units, sectors, bases, air stations, law enforcement teams, district offices and headquarters units. SKs have opportunities for independent duty assignments on buoy tenders and search and rescue stations, but they also serve at sea on most large cutters, including icebreakers and the new security cutters.

According to Kemp, a lot of people live by the Golden Rule, which is to treat others how you want to be treated. Kemp’s philosophy follows the Platinum Rule, which is to treat others the way they want to be treated. Kemp’s unique working experiences overseas and at the district level has shown him what it truly means to work with and for fellow shipmates and how to meet their goals.

“At work, I’m not working with and for storekeepers, I’m working for different ratings and people who have different goals at their job,” said Kemp. “So, I have to put myself in their shoes and see what they need or want and how can I help them reach their goals. I can only achieve my goals if they are achieving theirs.”

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