Dennis Paul NealMajor
CCN, MACV-SOG, 5TH SF GRP, SPECIAL FORCES
Army of the United States
01 February 1944 - 06 September 1978
Tarpon Springs, Florida
Panel 20W Line 081
The database page for Dennis Paul Neal
I have worn Dennis' MIA bracelet for around 20 years. My brother George David Whitelaw was killed in 1968. Every Memorial Day I always remember my brother and the name Dennis Neal. God bless his family.
Linda Whitelaw Davis
I received a POW/MIA bracelet with Dennis' name on it when I was ten. My husband, who served in Vietnam as well, recently visited the Wall and obtained a tracing of Dennis' name for me.
Kimberly Ferri Cakebread
I've had Major Neal's bracelet so long that I've had to get a replacement, as the original red one has broken in half. The replacement was in 1994.
I look forward to going to the WALL in D.C. in the future, but I live in Pensacola, Florida, and we have a 'WALL SOUTH' that has Neal's name in the directory.
I will always remember what MY freedom has cost so many others. I am forever in debt and hold ALL service personnel in the highest regard!
Thank you for letting me say a little of what's in my heart.
Major Dennis Paul Neal
In the summer of 1969, I began wearing Captain Dennis Neal's original silver colored MIA Bracelet that just listed his MIA date of 7-31-69. When I put it on at age 17, I said I would wear it until he came home or his remains were discovered. He was 25 years old in the Summer of Love and was listed as MIA.
I am originally from Washington State and have lived in Washington, DC for a long time. I go to the Wall frequently to visit his cross on the Wall. The original MIA bracelet has worn down to the brass on the inside. On the 20th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans' Wall, the guys, as I call them, made me a beautiful Sterling Silver bracelet with the Wall on one side and the Army Seal on the other and more information than the original MIA bracelets had on them.
Something compelled me to go to the Wall on the first of February in 1994. It was a very cold winter day. I went to the Wall early in the morning and touched his cross, said a prayer for him, and then began crying until there were no more tears.
As I walked back toward the US Park Service information booth, I stopped and asked for his print out. I keep them all as a memento of our visits. That day was his 50th birthday.
I realized that we had come an equal distance in time. The interval of time for his life starting and ending was now the same. Paul was 25 when he was doing recon in Laos on a mission. I had worn his MIA bracelet for 25 years of my life and Paul had been MIA for 25 years. I had worn his bracelet longer than I ever had expected. I never called him Dennis; I have always called him Paul. Maybe to me, he was my Saint Paul, who guided me in life. I am not overly religious but something connected my life to the end of his life and the suffering he felt on July 31, 1969. To honor the memory of Major Dennis Paul Neal is important to me and I am thankful for it.
I never knew him or his family, but he has always been a part of my life for 37 years now. If his family reads this, please know that there was someone who kept his spirit alive and thought about him every day. I felt his loss deeply and have honored his service to America all these years.
My own Father Mickey Saranovich was the Chief Petty Officer on a destroyer in the North Atlantic with the Royal British Navy in WW II. Since his death on Memorial Day in 1998, I have two reasons to remember two great men who were a part of my life.
Notes from The Virtual WallCaptain Dennis P. Neal, SP4 Michael P. Burns, and four indigenous troops were conducting a reconnaissance patrol in Laos. After completing their mission, the team successfully moved to a pre-briefed location in the rugged jungle covered mountains near Highway 912, just west of the Lao/South Vietnamese border. They set up a security perimeter and waited for extraction helicopters to arrive.
Before the extraction, the patrol was attacked by North Vietnamese forces. A B-40 rocket explosion killed two of the indigenous troops, severely wounded both Neal (chest) and Burns (head), and inflicted lesser injuries on the other two troops. Believing Neal and Burns to be dead or near death, the two survivors took an emergency radio and moved out to escape the area.
The two were successfully extracted and search forces inserted. Although the search forces located the site of the firefight, no sign of Neal or Burns was found. Since there was no positive evidence of their deaths, both men were placed in MIA status.
On 6 Sep 1978, the Secretary of the Army approved a Presumptive Finding of Death for now-Major Dennis Neal. As of 01 Feb 2005 neither Neal's nor Burns' remains have been repatriated.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 20 May 2002
Last updated 08/10/2009