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Honoring Our Heroes

Master Sergeant Harold E. Neal: Age 86

Master Sergeant (MSG) Harold E. Neal served 21 years in the United States Air Force. His Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) was Manager of Materials. His awards, decorations, citations and medals included: Bronze Star Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Commendation Meritorious Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, and Good Conduct Medal.

MSG Neal was born in Palestine, TX, to his parents, Winfred and Lela Neal. He graduated from Palestine High School in1954 and volunteered for service in the U.S. Air Force.

MSG Neal completed Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) TX and trained at the technical school at Kelly AFB, TX, followed by training in the language school at the University of Indiana. Given security clearance, he was assigned to work in the supply system at Kelly AFB, TX, for two years, at Elmendorf AFB, AK for six months, at St. Lawrence Island, AK, for one year and at Kelly AFB, TX, for two years. Next, he was sent to Fort Meade, MD, at the National Security Agency for two years followed by deployment for three years to Misawa Air Base, Japan, temporary duty yonder (TDY) to Wakkana, a northern island of Japan, and TDY to Okinawa. He was then sent to Goodfellow AFB, TX, followed by deployment to Shu Linkou Air Station, Taiwan for two years. He returned to the United States and served at Bowling AFB, Washington, D.C. He then served with the Air Defense Command at Andrews AFB, MD, at Westover AFB, MA, along with three TDYs to Greenland, Bermuda and to Air Defense Command bases in FL. He was deployed to Goosebay AFB, Labrador, Canada, for service with the Strategic Air Command (SAC) for two years. He next served at Dyess AFB, TX, and then was deployed to Royal Takhli Air Base RTAB, Thailand, where he handled equipment that had been exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam resulting in serious health issues later in his life. He welcomed two sons while serving in the Air Force. Mark Allen Neal was born at Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo, TX and Michael Brent was born at Goosebay AFB in Goosebay, Labrador. His last assignment was at Carswell AFB, TX, where he retired from military service March 31, 1975.

After his military retirement, MSG Neal worked 20 years as materials manager for Cooper Industries (later Ryder and then Aviall) at Love Field in Dallas, TX. The company overhauled jet engines, and he was responsible for the inventory to support that business. While working at Love Field, he attended Tarrant County Junior College, Fort Worth, TX, and received two Associate Degrees using the GI bill. He retired from Aviall in 1995 and moved to Montgomery, AL. He worked at Electrosystems in Ft. Deposit, AL for three years, retiring in 1998.

MSG Neal and his wife, Carolyn, have been married 42 years. They have enjoyed road trips in the United States and scuba diving in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and around the Hawaiian Islands. They are members of First United Methodist Church of Montgomery, AL where he was involved in many ministries. He enjoyed working in the Fix-it Shop where he repaired items for church members and built/repaired projects for the church. He drove the church's 29-passenger bus supporting ministries for all age groups. For years, he participated in local, national, and international mission trips. He was a member of the board for T. S. Morris Elementary School Partners' Alliance where he was instrumental in helping with fundraising, landscaping, and tutoring. In 2013, he and Carolyn were presented with the Family of the Year Award.

MSG Neal reflects on his military service saying, "I thought that it was a calling to serve in the Air Force because I liked airplanes. Although I never got to fly planes, I got to ride in a lot of planes including the C-5, a heavy intercontinental-range plane with strategic airlift capability, one that can carry outsized and oversized loads including all air-certifiable cargo. The retirement is good, and the health care from the VA is good. I would like people to remember me as being a fair and honest individual."

 

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