Army Staff Sgt. SSG William R. Neil Jr.
38, of Holmdel, NJ; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died March 22 in Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.
Staff Sgt. William R. Neil Jr.
A Holmdel man who gave up a career on Wall Street for life in the Army died after his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, military officials said Monday.
Staff Sgt. William R. Neil Jr., 38, was in Sperwan Ghar in the Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan when his vehicle hit the IED Saturday. He was on his second tour in Afghanistan, assigned to the Army 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group as a paratrooper.
In a statement released Monday night, family members called Neil "a true patriot who will never be forgotten."
Neil, known as Billy to his family and friends, died doing what he loved, his family said.
"Billy was a kind and generous person who loved both his family as well as serving his country. We are extremely proud of his courage and his commitment to our country's endeavor and extend our sympathy to other fallen heroes' families," his family's statement said. "He will be sorely missed by family, friends and his comrades still fighting for the cause Billy so dearly believed in."
Neil is at least the 10th service member with New Jersey ties to die in Afghanistan since the war began in the fall of 2001. An additional 88 service members with ties to the state have died in Iraq.
He is survived by his parents, William and Patricia, in Holmdel, and his girlfriend, Lorraine Cappuccino. He also is survived by three sisters, Veronica Cozzi, Patti Neil and Barbara Esposito, and their families, including two nieces and two nephews.
Earlier Monday, Neil's parents declined to speak about their son when they arrived at the family's townhouse in the Hidden Woods development. Before they went inside, Neil's father and mother picked up two baskets of recently delivered flowers left in front of the door. An American flag was flying over the neatly kept front porch.
The statement the family released described Neil as a dedicated soldier who did stints in both the Navy and the Army. In his down time, he enjoyed restoring classic cars, traveling and photography. He also loved reading nonfiction and historical publications and dining on Italian and Mexican food.
Neil was born in Jersey City and graduated from Hudson Catholic High School in 1987, his family said. He enlisted in the Navy after graduation and served for four years.
When he returned home, he worked for five years on Wall Street. But he eventually went back into the military, enlisting in the Army in 1998 as a supply specialist.
Neil served with the 4th Ranger Training Battalion in Fort Benning, Ga., and later went to Army Ranger School. He successfully passed the Special Forces Qualification Course to become a Green Beret in 2006.
He was assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion of the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) out of Fort Bragg, N.C., when he died.