Sergeant Major John Neel, Sergeant Major to the Corps of Cadets
Sergeant Major Neel hails from Birmingham Alabama. He joined the Army in 1976, and was trained as a Parachute Infantryman. His first assignment was with the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division, Ft Bragg NC. Sergeant Major Neel served over 15 years with the 505th as Rifleman, Driver, Armorer, Team Leader, Squad Leader, Scout Section Leader, Rifle Platoon Sergeant, Scout Platoon Sergeant, Operations Sergeant, and 1st Sergeant.
Sergeant Major Neel has served three tours with NATO in Izmir Turkey as an Operations Sergeant, and most recently as the Senior Enlisted Advisor and Sergeant Major for Joint Command Southeast. He served for two years on Her Majesty’s service as 8th Platoon Sergeant, 1st Battalion, of the British Parachute Regiment.
He is a graduate of Class 47 United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, FT Bliss TX and served as the Sergeant Major of the Army ROTC Department, Virginia Military Institute from July 1997- July 2000.
Sergeant Major Neel's deployments include Grenada in 1983, Joint Task Force 6 along the New Mexico / Mexico border in 1992, Operation Harvest Bear in Panama to quell the riots in the Cuban refugee camps in 1995, and to Kosovo as the Operations Sergeant, J3, HQ KFOR-4 in September 2000.
Sergeant Major Neel's awards and decorations include: The Legion of Merit, The Bronze Star, The Defense Meritorious Service Medal, The Army Meritorious Service Medal, The Joint Service Commendation Medal, The Army Commendation Medal, The Joint Service Achievement Medal, The Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct medal, The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, The Humanitarian Service Medal, The Southwest Asian Service Medal, The Army Service Ribbon, The Overseas Service Ribbon, German Parachute Wings, Canadian Parachute Wings, British Parachute Wings, The Expert Infantry Badge, The Combat Infantry Badge, and The Master Parachutist Badge.
He joined the Commandant’s Staff in September 2001, and is an Honorary Brother Rat to the Class of 2004. His duties involve the Appearance and Discipline of the Corps of Cadets, Parades, Color Guard activities, Barracks Maintenance and Appearance, and Supervision of the New Cadet Military Training program.
Sergeant Major Neel is married to the former Kimberly Ann Dennis of Birmingham Alabama. Their son, Maj. Jonathon Neel, a veteran of the War in Iraq and graduate of the University of Maryland, is the Information Security Officer at VMI. Their daughter, Capt. Elise Neel, a graduate of Mary Baldwin College, is serving with the 82nd Airborne Division and is currently deployed in Afghanistan.