TAMPA, Fla. — Dewayne Kimble remembers walking with his grandmother and seeing National Guard Armory Unity members running near his home in Charleston, Missouri. The then-teenager felt a stirring in his heart.
“I was like, man, that is so cool,” he said. “About a year later, I was doing that.”
The Apollo Beach veteran was raised by his grandparents in that small town. He joined the military after his junior year of high school and went to basic training. He returned to finish high school before entering more intense training. He went on to serve for nearly a decade in the Army.
“I was in the Missouri National Guard from Jan. 1987 to Oct. 1991. Then I went on active duty from Oct. 1997 to Nov. 1997,” he said. “Your chest is puffed up. Your shoulders are back and you’re just so proud to wear that uniform and represent your country that way.”
Kimble was recognized for saving the lives of two children from a fire while stationed in Germany in 1991. His actions were honored with the Soldier's Medal, the nation’s highest peacetime distinction.
To this day, he says he was just doing what he was trained to do.
“You are trained to run toward danger and not run away from it,” said Kimble.
He’s gone from saving kids while abroad to serving kids at home. The veteran has a heart for those in need. He started KMD 89 Consulting three years ago to help veterans with their VA claims process. He started making YouTube videos to answer questions for veterans. It gave him the idea to make donations to support local kids who needed a hand up in life.
“I knew what I wanted to provide but we reached out to the principals and asked, ‘What do you need?’”
Kimble delivered much-needed supplies to Jennings Middle School in October. He took microwaves, refrigerators, a washer and dryer, masks, gift cards, school supplies, and even Amazon gift cards to the underserved area of Hillsborough County. Administrators at Jennings Middle were ecstatic to accept these gifts.
“We humbly accept these gifts and truly appreciate the help from Mr. Kimble,” said principal Anderson Rhodes,” “KMD89 VA Claims Consulting has been a blessing for the staff, students, and families at Jennings Middle School. It’s difficult finding a community partner willing to discuss your vision and needs and make them come true.”
Kimble “adopted” Jennings, as well as Gibbs High School in Pinellas County, in part because he remembers difficult times growing up in rural Missouri.
Giving back has always been his focus.
“One thing you learn in the military is leave no soldier behind. So, in a community, I don’t want to leave any other family behind. I don’t want to leave any other student behind,” said Kimble, who started KMD 89 on Nov. 1, 2018. “Our next initiative is we want (Jennings) to identify 15 families and we want to provide dinner for those 15 families for Thanksgiving,” he said.
He moved to Florida in August 2006 and has enjoyed getting to immerse himself in the veteran community. He says nearly a dozen of his neighbors are veterans and they routinely share stories from their service.
“I wanted to figure out a way of how I could educate veterans so they wouldn’t be frustrated like I was,” said Kimble, who spent four years trying to navigate the VA claims process. “
He hosts a monthly veteran roundtable and does question and answer sessions on YouTube. He has 70 five-star ratings on Google and has helped numerous veterans figure out how to maximize their VA experience.
“People are so appreciative,” he said.