Southern Wisconsin Remembers Corporal Benjamin Neal

By: Tina Stein
By: Tina Stein

ORFORDVILLE (WIFR) -- The body of a local soldier killed in Afghanistan returns home tomorrow. And the people of his hometown are paying the ultimate respect. 23 News was in Orfordville, Wisconsin tonight, where hundreds came out to line the streets with thousands of american flags.

Twelve miles of flapping of flags will greet the Neal family on their somber journey home. Corporal Ben Neal was killed last Wednesday. His body arrives tomorrow at the Southern Wisconsin Airport for burial.

Ben's sister Becca planted the first memorial flag at Newcomer Funeral Home in Orfordville. It served as a staging area where about two hundred people picked up flags to place along the motorcade route. Most people there never knew Corporal Neal. They were just compelled to show respect for him and his family.

"I came home from Vietnam, I came home safe. This boy didn't so I'm out to help him," said Robert Corning of Brodhead, WI.

Larry Eckhardt didn't know Ben either. But heard of his death and decided to lend 22-hundred flags to the community. He's known for doing this throughout the midwest. The funeral home spread the word via Facebook.

"This is the most difficult we've done and the most involved because of the time frame from when he died to getting him back here," said Newcomer Funeral Home owner Beverly Newcomer.

It will be ten days from the time Corporal Neal's Army unit was attacked in Afghanistan to the time his body arrives home. A long time to wait to let the healing process begin.

Corporal Neal was only 21-years-old. He joined the Army shortly after graduating from Parkview High School in 2009. He was based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The Town of Beloit is requesting members of the community to help in welcoming Corporal Neal home. They've asked folks to line Townline Road between Highway 51 and Afton Road. They call this the best way to silently honor Corporal Neal and his family.

A public visitation will be held on Monday from four to 9 p.m. at Parkview High School. Immediate family and friends will gather privately beforehand. The funeral is scheduled for Tuesday at ten o'clock at Saint William Catholic Church in Janesville.

Release from the Rock County Sheriff: Return Home of Specialist Benjamin H. Neal

Specialist Benjamin H. Neal, 21, Orfordville, WI, who died April 25 from injuries sustained when enemy forced attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device, will return home on Saturday, May 5 at 9:00 a.m. In accordance with family wishes, the route for Specialist Neal’s return will be:

-Leave Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport via Airport Road
-South to USH 51 from Airport Road
-West to Beloit Rock Townline Road from USH 51
-North to CTH D/Afton Road from Beloit Rock Townline Road
-West to Plymouth Church Road from CTH D/Afton Road
-North to STH 213 from Plymouth Church Road
-East to STH 11 from STH 213 (Village of Orfordville)
-(Immediate family only) North to Coon Island Road; arrive at Newcomer Silverthorn Funeral Home

In order to accommodate Specialist Neal’s family and all other attendees wishing to participate in his return home, deputies will be stationed on Airport Road providing direction to one of four staging areas. In addition, deputies will provide a handout to each driver explaining this process in more detail, as well as information pertaining to route safety.

The Sheriff’s Office projects more than 150 motor vehicles will be involved in returning Specialist Neal home. Intersections along the return route will be closed by law enforcement officials. Therefore, motorists should avoid route intersections from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m.


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