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First Name: Phillip

Last Name: Neel

Birthplace: Vicenza, ITA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Fredericksburg, TX
Middle Name: I.

Date of Birth: 27 November 1979

Date of Death: 08 April 2007

Rank: First Lieutenant

Years Served:
Phillip I. Neel

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 2005

•  Kosovo War (1998 - 1999)
•  Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) (2003 - 2011)


Phillip I. Neel
First Lieutenant, U.S. Army

Phillip I. Neel was born in Vicenza, Italy, raised in Fredericksburg, TX, and was a 1998 graduate of Fredericksburg High School. Following graduation, Phillip enlisted in the U.S. Army where he advanced to the rank of Specialist and was deployed to Kosovo as an Airborne unit paratrooper. After getting out of the Army, he received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY. He graduated with the Class of 2005 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry.

On 8 April 2007, First Lieutenant Phillip I. Neel was serving as Platoon Leader, 2nd Platoon, Company A, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

On that date, shortly after midnight, Alpha "Assassin" Company conducted Operation SAMURAI, an Air Assault operation into a town known to contain insurgent safe houses. As its helicopters approached the Helicopter Landing Zone (HLZ), the supporting Air Weapons Team identified individuals fleeing the objective area to the south. After securing an initial foothold building on the objective, the 1st Squad, accompanied by Platoon Leader 1LT Neel, moved to interdict the enemy as they were attempting to evade through a copse of trees 800 meters to the south of the foothold building. 1LT Neel ordered the Squad Leader to set a base of fire overwatching the stand of trees, and then moved with the team toward the last known location of the enemy. As the fire team approached, Anti-Iraqi Forces engaged the team from a different position with automatic weapons fire and hand grenades at a range of 15 meters. Although 1LT Neel, was mortally wounded in the initial contact, he remained conscious. On his own initiative and without regard for his personal safety, a wounded PFC Cornford high-crawled under fire to 1LT Neel's position to defend him and render buddy aid. With only one arm fully functional, PFC Cornford used his SKEDCO litter to prop up his weapon to continue to engage the enemy one-handed. During this time, the enemy was continuing to place heavy and effective fire on their position, making it difficult for additional members of the squad to move to 1LT Neel and PFC Cornford's aid. PFC Cornford stubbornly defended his position for several minutes, refusing to leave the heavily wounded 1LT Neel. PFC Cornford continued to engage the enemy with small arms fire and apply pressure to his Platoon Leader's wound until his Squad Leader arrived at his position. On 1LT Neel's final order, PFC Cornford and the Squad Leader engaged the enemy position with hand grenades, knocking it out of action. PFC Cornford and other squad members then rendered first aid to 1LT Neel until additional forces and the MEDEVAC aircraft arrived. Although 1LT Neel was conscious when loaded onto the helicopter, he died of his multiple wounds a short time later. PFC Cornford’s courageous actions that day earned him the U.S. Army's third highest award for valor, the Silver Star Medal.

Medals, Awards, Badges and Tabs (Partial List)

Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Army Achievement Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star
Kosovo Campaign Medal with Bronze Star
Iraq Campaign Medal with Bronze Star
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon
NATO Medal (Kosovo)
Combat Infantryman Badge
Expert Infantryman Badge
Parachutist Badge
Ranger Tab


First Lieutenant Phillip I. Neel is buried at the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery in West Point, Orange County, NY.


Honoree ID: 6928   Created by: MHOH




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