1LT Phillip Neel

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Fredericksburg lost one of its own to the fighting in Iraq very early Sunday morning when 1LT Phillip Isaac Neel died of wounds auffered during an engagement with enemy forces north of Baghdad.
The second-oldest of Fredericksburg residents col. Leroy(Lee) and Kathy Neeel's six children,the 27-year old U.S. Army infantry officer was killed near Balad in the Diyala Providence.
A Department of Defence statement issued Monday said Neel died of wounds sufferredd when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using grenades.
Later, in a phone call here Tuesday afternoon, Neel's
familylearned from his battalion commander in Iraq that the young platoon leader had sustained a serious leg wound about 10 minutes after midnight Easter Sunday but continued to give orders for men to return fire from where he'd fallen.
He was evenetually airlifted from the scene by a medical evacuation helicopter but reportedly died a short time later around 2 a.m.
A 1998 Fredericksburg High school graduate, Neel had been serving in Iraq since october 2006 with the 3rd Battalion,8th Cavalry Regiment,3rd Brigade,1st Calalry Division out of Ft. Hood.
With services for Neel still pending,hopes are to have his body interred sometime next week in the U.S. Military Academy Cemetary at West Point,NY.
Depending on when burial can take place,the Neel family would like for a memorial service to be held at 10 a.m. saturday, April 21,in the Fredericksburg High School Auditorium.
"Phillip was an inspiration and leader to his five siblings,"his family said in a prepared statement issued late yesterdayafternoon."He led by example and consistently challenged them to do the right thing in all circumstances, no matter what pressures were involved."
"He was a blessing to his parents and honored them by his compassion, his commitment to serving the lord,his bravery and his selflessness," the statement continued."He cared deeply for his soldiers and died as he lived-putting others' needs before his own. Phillip loved his faily and his soldiers,and he felt it an honor to seve his country"
The family statement concluded by noting, "He prayed for his enemies:he loved his God. We will miss him terribly,but he has left us with many wonderful memories and an unforgettable example of excellence."
Neel had recently returned home to Fredericksburg while on a two-week leave from his duty station at Baquba,Iraq,to join his brothers and sisters in a suprise spring break visit for their parents who have lived in Fredericksburg since movinghre in 1996 from Ft. Leavenworth,KS after his father retired as lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Army.
Prior to being shipped to Iraq,Neel had joined the Army as an enlisted man following his may 1998 graduation from FHS.
Advancing to the rank of specialist while serving a tow-year stint with the Army,Neel was deployed to Kosovo as an Airborne un paratrooper.
But he then decided to begin the process to become a commissioned officer by studying for a year at the U.S. Military Academy Prep School at West Point where he graduated as second lieutenant in May 2005.
At West Point, he was on the school's parachute team and participated in national competitions,preforming group aerial designs and formations during free-fall events.
His military honors included the Bronze Star,Purple Heart,Army Achievement Medal with Bonze Star,Iraq Campaign Ribbon, Global War on Terror Service Ribbon, Over Seas Ribbon,Combat Infantry Badge,Parachute Badge and Ranger Tab.

Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post Wed.,April11,2007

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I didn't personally 1'st LT. Neel, but that doesn't negate my frustration & anger. I have the ought-most respect for those that serve our country and pay the ultimate price so that the rest of us can take advantage of the freedom we so often take for granted. Having said that, there is not a day that goes by that I don't hope this war ends. Those in power have to realize that life is not a replaceable commodity! My heart-felt sympathies and condolences go out to the family and friends. Salute LT. Neel! Thank you for your service.

Dialogue/commentary between Divot, Twardo & myself -

"from your first Oshkosh when the three of us were riding to or from one of

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I was saddend to learn of ILT Neel's passing. I will always remember him as a great cadet on the parachute team at West Point. Phil was quiet and unassuming and did his best on every jump he made. You could see that big smile he had as he flew his canopy into Michie Staduim. I'm sure Phil was a fine leader and role model for his troops. My condolences to his family and friends.

SFC Eric Heinsheimer
NCIOC BLack Knights 2004-2006
"Beat Em"

Phil is on the far right in the attached photo. Picture taken at 2005 Collegiate Awards Dinner.

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