Friday, July 23, 2010

Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Justin McNeley

Remember Our Heroes

Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Justin McNeley, 30, of Wheatridge, Colo.

Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Justin McNeley was assigned to Assault Craft Unit One (ACU-1), San Diego; died July 23, 2010 in Logar province, Afghanistan, when he was captured and believed to have been killed by the Taliban. Coalition Forces recovered his body July 25 after an extensive search. Also kidnapped and believed to have been killed by the Taliban was Navy Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Jarod Newlove.

The family of Justin McNeley has confirmed that the 30-year-old sailor died in a shootout with the Taliban during a confrontation that resulted in the capture of another sailor.

McNeley's identity was confirmed by his uncle Jim Kerr, a Colorado state legislator who told the Denver Post that McNeley was a noncommissioned officer slated to return to the U.S. in August.

"He was young, full of energy, a good kid and a patriot defending his country," said Kerr, a Republican lawmaker from Littleton, a Denver suburb.

"To me it's like a flashback to when my cousin was killed in Vietnam. It brings back all those memories," Kerr told the paper. "My wife is very distraught as is Justin's mother. The family is very close."

McNeley's father, a deputy fire marshal with the city of Encinitas, Calif., sent an e-mail to colleagues Monday confirming his son's death.

"I regret to pass this information on, but I was informed by the U.S. NAVY this morning that my son was the one that was killed in the conflict," George McNeley wrote, according to the North County Times, which obtained the email.
Calls seeking comment from the senior McNeley or the Encinitas Fire Department were referred to the Navy. A Fire Department spokeswoman confirmed the authenticity of the email and said George McNeley had taken an indefinite leave of absence.

Justin McNeley, 30, was raised in Colorado but moved to Kingman, Ariz., in 2004. Calls to McNeley's uncle and parents for comment were not returned.

As a petty officer 2nd class, he was stationed in San Diego prior to his deployment but served with a different unit in Afghanistan. He was classified as an individual augmentee — a person who is chosen to fill critically needed jobs for other military branches in the war zone. Individual augmentees from the Navy have taken on duties such as guarding prisons, transporting equipment, constructing buildings, cooking meals for troops and providing medical care.

Before leaving for Afghanistan, McNeley was a hull technician. The tasks for that position include doing metal work needed to keep a ship’s structures and surfaces in good condition, plus repairing small boats and maintaining ballast control systems.

McNeley was a single father to two boys, ages 4 and 8.

“He was an outstanding young man,” said Encinitas Fire Marshall Robert Scott, a spokesman for the McNeley family. “You don’t see in today’s younger people some of the motivation and the dependability and the ethics that you used to see in generations removed. Justin was all about that.”

Scott said McNeley chose to go to Afghanistan when the Navy asked for volunteers to handle hazardous duty. He said the sailor will be buried in Colorado.

McNeley’s mother, who lives in Kingman, could not be reached Monday night.

Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Justin McNeley was killed in action on 7/23/10.

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