|Orfordville soldier's funeral set for Tuesday|
|Written by Stateline News|
|Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:18|
With its porch lights on, a home on Center Street in Orfordville is adorned with American Flags in honor of Spc. Benjamin Neal, 21, who died April 25 in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan. Residents kept their porch lights on until Neal’s body returned home to be buried. More photos at Facebook.com/StatelineNews. Dan Plutchak/staff
ORFORDVILLE — Residents in this small, closely knit community kept vigil throughout the week, waiting for the return of their fallen soldier.
Spc. Benjamin Neal, 21, a graduate of Parkview High School in Orfordville, died April 25 in Kandahar Province after enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Defense.
His remains are expected to arrive about 9 a.m. Saturday at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport where a large procession is expected to travel through Orfordville and end at Newcomer-Silverthorn Chapel on the Hill.
Neal's funeral will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 8 at St. Williams Catholic Church in Janesville with the Fr. Kevin Dooley presiding. The funeral was moved because St. Augustine Church in Footville is unable to handle the large number of people expected to attend.
A private visitation will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, May 7, 2012 at Newcomer-Silverthorn Chapel on the Hill, Orfordville for the immediate and military family only. A public visitation will follow from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Parkview High School.
Since news of Neal’s death reached home, residents have left their porch lights on in an effort that started on Facebook called “Lighting the Way to Bring Ben Home.”
The Facebook page includes a map showing homes across the country joining the effort.
The action symbolizes the wait for Neal’s return, “as it is a long process and wait for a fallen hero to come home,” Neal’s cousin Denise Neal wrote on the Facebook page.
Neal was the son of Don and Trish Neal, who run a dairy farm in Spring Valley Township in western Rock County.
On Friday, Larry Eckhardt, 55, from Little York, Ill., known as Larry the Flag Man, is expected to arrive with 2,200 American flags to be placed throughout Orfordville. Volunteers are needed to install the flags beginning at about 4 p.m.
The flags will line the streets where the procession will travel bringing Neal from the airport, through town, on the way to the funeral home.
Eckhardt travels the Midwest placing flags in the communities of fallen soldiers. Area residents were enlisted to help install the flags.
A memorial fund also has been set up at Orfordville’s Farmers & Merchants Bank, and donations are being accepted for paper flags in Neal’s honor at local businesses.
Neal was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.
He graduated in 2009 from Parkview High School, where he was an honors student. He was a member of the Plymouth 4-H Club.
Neal wrestled for four years in high school and was a natural leader, Parkview High School wrestling coach Joel Steinman told the Gazette.
Steinman said he was Neal’s coach in high school and his friend after Neal graduated. Steinman is a Gulf War veteran, and the two had a lot in common, he said.
“He’s always been a leader and dedicated in what he was doing,” Steinman said. “He was one heck of a wrestler, a four-time sectional qualifier.
“When he talked, kids listened. They respected him.”
Orfordville residents are asked not to park on Beloit Street/Highway 213 on Saturday morning.
Orfordville’s annual village-wide rummage sales and the Orfordville Fire Department’s pancake breakfast have been rescheduled to Saturday, May 12. The pancake breakfast will be from 6 a.m. to noon at the fire station, 173 N. Wright St.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:40|