Washington, D.C. --
Marines and family and friends of General Richard I. Neal gathered for a memorial service honoring his life and service at St. Joseph’s Church in Washington, D.C. on July 6, 2022. Gen. Neal, who served as the 26th Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, passed away on June 17, 2022.
General Neal was born on June 20, 1942, to John and Lois Neal in Hull, Massachusetts. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1965, upon his graduation from Northeastern University, Boston, Mass., where he received a B.S. degree in History and Education. He also received a M.A. degree from Tulane University, New Orleans, La. in 1973.
Following completion of The Basic School, Quantico and subsequently the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course at Fort Sill, Okla., General Neal was assigned to the 3d Marine Division for service in the Republic of Vietnam, where he served as a Forward Observer with 3d Battalion, 9th Marines. He returned to Vietnam in January 1970, where he was assigned as an Infantry Battalion Advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Corps. Upon his return he attended Amphibious Warfare School.
In 1973, he served as the Commanding Officer of the 2d 155 Howitzer Battery, 2d Field Artillery Group at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Following a tour as head of the Company Grade Assignment Section at Headquarters Marine Corps, he attended the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. He served on the Air-Ground Exchange Program as S-3, Marine Aircraft Group 36, on Okinawa. Upon return from overseas, General Neal was assigned as the head of the Operations Division, Amphibious Warfare School, Quantico.
Gen Neal was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1981. In 1982, he was selected to attend the National War College in Washington, D.C. Upon completion of school, he returned to Camp Lejeune to command 5th Battalion, 10th Marines.
General Neal was promoted to colonel in 1985, and was assigned to U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., as the Chief of the Policy/Strategy Division, and later as the Chief of the Special Projects Division in the J-5 Directorate. In August 1988, he was assigned duty as Director, Amphibious Warfare School, Quantico. While serving in this capacity, he was selected for promotion to brigadier general in December 1989.
In July 1990, General Neal was advanced to brigadier general and assigned duty as the Director, Manpower Plans and Policy Division, Manpower and Reserve Affairs Department. He served in this capacity until May 21, 1992. From September 1990 to April 1991, he was assigned temporary duty as the Deputy for Operations at U.S. Central Command for Operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM.
General Neal was assigned as the Deputy Commanding General, II MEF on June 4, 1992. From June 1992 to August 1992, he served as Commanding General, Joint Task Force for Operation GITMO, a humanitarian relief effort for Haitian migrants at Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba. General Neal was advanced to major general on April 2, 1993, and assigned as the Commanding General of the 2d Marine Division.
In August 1994, he was assigned as the Deputy Commander-in-Chief/Chief of Staff, U.S. Central Command, and advanced to lieutenant general in October 1994. General Neal was promoted to General on September 19, 1996, and assumed duties as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps on September 27, 1996, a position in which he served until his retirement on November 1, 1998.
General Neal’s personal decorations include: the Defense Distinguished Service Medal; Silver Star with gold star in lieu of a second award; the Defense Superior Service Medal with Palm in lieu of a second award; Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”; Purple Heart; Navy Commendation Medal; Navy Achievement Medal; and the Combat Action Ribbon.
General Neal is survived by his wife, the former Kathleen Louise McCann of South Boston, Mass. They have three children: Andrew, Amy and Erin, and eight grandchildren: Marina, Nathaniel, Aiden, Kennedy, Tegan, Dominic, Sophia and Holland. His family and loved ones have requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Marine Corps Scholarship Fund at www.mcsf.org.