April 9, 2008

Adjutant General confirms death of Virginia Guard Soldier

Staff Sgt. Jeremiah McNeal, 23, of Norfolk, Va., died Apr. 6, 2008, in the vicinity of Baghdad, when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle.

RICHMOND, Va. - Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, confirmed April 8 the death of a Virginia National Guard Soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Staff Sgt. Jeremiah McNeal, 23, of Norfolk, Va., died Apr. 6, 2008, in the vicinity of Baghdad, when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle. His military specialty was combat engineer, and he was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company based in West Point, Virginia.

“Everyone feels a sense of loss when a young man like this dies, but it hits us particularly hard in the Virginia National Guard,” Newman said. “We enlisted this Soldier, we trained him, he deployed with his fellow Guardsmen and we are all feeling the pain of his loss. The citizens of the Commonwealth and his fellow Guardsmen will remember his brave sacrifice as we share the grief felt by his family. I ask our fellow citizens to keep Staff Sgt. McNeal and his family in their prayers.”

“We should all feel proud of what the men and women of the Virginia National Guard are doing in Iraq in service to their country,” Newman said. “They are being given the toughest missions, and they are getting those missions accomplished. The job Staff Sgt. McNeal and his fellow engineers was doing was critically important and ensured the safety of other Soldiers working in their area of operations.”

McNeal’s family will be the Virginia National Guard’s primary focus in the coming days. “We will be making resources available to bring what comfort we can. The unit’s family support organization along with the state chaplain are currently working with the family through this difficult period,” Newman said.

“Comanche Company is heart-wrenched by the loss of Staff Sgt. McNeal,” said Capt. Beau Mason, commander of the 237th Engineer Company. “He was a part of our brotherhood that can never be replaced. Our mission is dangerous, yet Staff Sgt. McNeal faced it with a cheerful smile and alleviated the fears of many Soldiers solely through his presence. It will be impossible to fill that gap that has been left through the loss of Staff Sgt. McNeal.”

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