Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Phillip Neel laid to rest

Over 1,200 friends and family gathered at the Fredericksburg High School auditorium Saturday morning in honor of 1LT Phillip Isaac Neel, 27, who died April 8 due to injuries suffered during a grenade attack while serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq.

The service followed military tradition with three cadets from the Color Guard at Fort Hood presenting an American flag to the attendees. The traditional arrangement of a helmet, rifle and shoes were placed in the center of the stage representing the fallen soldier.

Family members of Neel, brothers Joseph, Jesse and Oliver Neel, along with his father, Lt. Colonel Leroy (Lee) Neel (ret.), participated in the service.

Joseph Neel led those attending in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance; Jesse Neel gave a detailed description of his brother’s life, and Oliver Neel read 1 Peter 5:6-11.

Col. Neel also spoke, thanking everyone for their “prayers, love and support”.

The retired U.S. Army officer also described his son’s life as seen through a father’s eyes.

“Phillip grew up an unpretentious, non-descript, unassuming American kid who displayed no obvious special gifts or talents,” he said. “He was sickly as a baby, put back in first grade and got cut from his first soccer team.”

He then described how his son grew from this slow start to a man who traveled the world and helped others at every opportunity.

Sporadically throughout the presentation, Col. Neel would describe memories of his son Phillip.

One was during his son’s freshman year at West Point upon completion of a field training exercise involving “good and bad forces”.

“He called me one night after that, pretty shook up,” Col. Neel recalled.

He said his son had believed he would soon be expelled from West Point due to upper classmen there being “terribly upset with him and threatening him.”

“He told me how he had asked prior to this event just how serious this exercise was to be taken and that the upper class had told him, ‘Oh very, very serious,’” his father said.

“During that exercise, he had trapped and overcome the red forces -- the mock enemy or the upper classmen if you will -- and hog-tied them, bound them and gagged them and drug them under a nearby tree (as muffled threats were coming through those gags).

“He paid for that dearly for the next six months, he told me. But eventually they all became close friends.”

His dedication to work hard and to perform to the highest ability was noted by Jesse Neel during his presentation as well as during his father’s.

The Rev. Jeremy Thomas, pastor at Fredericksburg Bible Church, was the last to speak during the service.

Rev. Thomas described Phillip Neel’s “Christ-like” characteristics -- “humbleness in birth, obedience in his life and love in his death” -- and how he knew that because of that, Phillip was “in a better place.”

“He made a sacrifice,” Rev. Thomas said, “that most of us will never know.”

From the Fredericksburg Standard

Related Link:
Phillip I. Neel killed dies of injuries from grenade attack