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 Major Martin Neal

What was important in your life before [serving your country in a time of conflict] is given new definition - some things fall away and new things become important. It changes your interpretation of your environment, the people around you, and your beliefs (religious and spiritual) in a way each person responds to differently.  It changes everything.


 Major Martin Neal and his wife Marna

 
Martin Neal of Hickman was deployed to Iraq in March 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His unit, the 41st Support Center, followed the invading forces into Iraq and was assigned to a Corps Rear Area Operations Center at Mosul. Corps Rear Area Operations Centers monitor assigned sectors and track all units moving into and out of the sectors. Martin was an assistant operations officer heavily involved with the unit's mobilization, deployment, and redeployment. The unit also coordinated defense for the Mosul Air Base, staged and escorted civilian fuel convoys, and trained initial elements of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) later the Iraqi Army.

Martin's wife, Marna, is an officer with the Nebraska Air National Guard and went to Iraq as a contractor from October 2003 to March 2004. She worked in Baghdad with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), where she helped program more than $18 billion in relief funds for Iraq reconstruction. The Neals were able to see each other three or four times while they were both in Iraq.
Source: All objects were loaned by Martin Neal

   
Hat, jacket, Iraqi flag, and an Iraqi bayonet for an AK-47 assault rifle.
   

Martin Neal on stage with Paul Bremer, then director of reconstruction and head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Bremer visited the 41st Support Center during the last formal training cycle they ran for the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, which was being incorporated into the defense of the Mosul Air Base.
 

Martin Neal in his tent in Iraq.

We were among the first units to go into Iraq and the living conditions were primitive at best. I lived in a tent for about ten months and ate army field rations for about three or four months before they finally established a dining facility . . . at the Mosul Airfield. Initially we washed our clothes in buckets, built our own latrines and showers, and slept during the day without air conditioning.


Marna Neal with her sister and cousin's.

As [Martin's] spouse, I felt cheated that the army was taking him away again. Since we had been married we had only lived together for six weeks when we got news of the deployment. The Iraq location was not a concern for me as is the feeling of most military members-being called to war is a proud moment to protect the freedoms of the people we train and work long hours to be prepared for and commit to.

Martin's immediate and extended families were very traumatized by the extensive and exaggerated media coverage. It was not unusual for his mother to call to see how I was doing and end up in tears over her personal stresses. It was hard as a new spouse to stay strong for myself, for Martin, the family members of his unit, and his own family too.     --Marna Neal  


Martin Neal with Iraqi soldiers.

I had the privilege to get to know the Iraqi people while I was working with the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC). I had long conversations with the Iraqi officers and they told me stories about how life was under Saddam's rule and Iraq in general. I found out that the Iraqi people were really no different than Americans because they wanted to have a safe and free environment where they could live their lives, raise their children, and practice their religion without fear of retribution. Their culture is different than ours, but the people are all the same. They have a lot of work ahead of them to ensure that freedom is maintained and they have lived under oppression for a long time. It will not be easy for them.


Members of the 41st Support Center, the first Nebraska Guard soldiers to enter Iraq.

Members of the 41st Support Center rout looters from a rocket fuel plant outside Baghdad

A member of the 41st Support Center found one hundred suicide vests in an abandoned warehouse south of Baghdad.
 

Members of the 41st Support Center in a bunker after a SCUD missile attack.
 

Staff Sergeant Sammy Siminton of the 41st Support Center graduates his first company of Iraqi soldiers.

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Exhibits

Introduction

  Maj. Gen. Roger Lempke

Individuals Stories

  Cpt. Robert Ford

  Maj. Martin Neal

  Cpt. Cindy Mefford

  Lt. Col. Tom Brewer

  Spc. Andrew Rodriguez

  Msgt. Martin Coleman

  Spc. Jenny (Beck) Bos

  Ssgt. John Ayers

  Sgt. Sion Odom

  Col. Thomas Schuurmans

  Chaplain Brian Kane

  Maj. Jim Oliver

  Col. George Skuodas

Homeland Missions

Equipment

Memorial

 

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Last updated 28 October 2008  

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