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Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Justin McNeley

Died July 25, 2010 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom


30, of Wheatridge, Colo.; assigned to Assault Craft Unit One (ACU-1), San Diego; died July 23 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.

Pentagon identifies kidnapped sailors

By Philip Ewing

Staff writer

The Pentagon on July 27 released the identities of the sailors captured and killed by the Taliban on July 23 in Logar province, Afghanistan, after they left the capital, Kabul, for reasons that have not been publicly clear.

Missing is Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, 25, of Renton, Wash., a reservist, who is believed to have been abducted by Taliban fighters. Officially he has been listed as “Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown.”

Killed was Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Justin McNeley, 30, of Wheatridge, Colo., from the San Diego-based Assault Craft Unit 1. He died in what is believed to have been an attack on his and Newlove’s armored SUV. NATO troops found McNeley’s body on July 25 after a massive search, which included reward posters featuring photographs of both men.

The commanding officer of ACU 1, Cmdr. Andrew Amidon, said in a Navy announcement that McNeley was “a hardworking, dedicated sailor who always sought out tough assignments. He will be missed by all who knew him.”

Newlove and McNeley were stationed in Afghanistan as individual augmentees — pulled from their regular commands to take on supplemental missions with NATO Training Mission Afghanistan in Kabul, said Navy spokesman Lt. Justin Cole. Cole did not have more information about their exact jobs, but sailors on IA duty generally take administrative, training or support jobs that regular ground forces choose not to staff with their own troops.

Navy records were not clear about exactly how long the sailors had been in Afghanistan, but it initially appeared Newlove had been in country since December and McNeley since some earlier point last year.

Pentagon spokesmen would not give details on why Newlove and McNeley might have been driving by themselves outside the wire. Cole said the International Security Assistance Force is still conducting an investigation into what happened.

Only one other American serviceman is known to be a captive of the Taliban: Army Spc. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, who went missing last June in Paktika province, in the southeast of Afghanistan.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead released a statement late July 27 saying “the deepest sympathy of the entire Navy is with the family and friends” of McNeley, and that “We appreciate all the coalition forces have done to bring our shipmate home, and we know they continue to do everything they can in the search for … Newlove. I remain extremely proud of the thousands of U.S. Navy sailors serving on the ground in Afghanistan today, and the tens of thousands who have deployed to Afghanistan during the past nine years.”

According to the latest statistics, released July 27, the Navy has 6,500 sailors on the ground in Afghanistan and 2,800 in Iraq.


Fallen sailor had kin in Ariz., Colo., Calif.

The Associated Press

KINGMAN, Ariz. — More than 100 people gathered in May 2009 to bid farewell to sailor Justin McNeley at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Kingman.

On July 27, members of the Patriot Guard Riders who had hoped to welcome the 30-year-old father of two home from Afghanistan next month were instead expecting to be called to escort his body to his funeral, said Richard Tromba, a member of the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group who helped organize the going-away event.

“There’s just no way I can put into words the loss that this community has experienced,” Tromba said. “Personally, I was the ride captain that sent him off and I’m taking it really hard.”

McNeley, who moved to Kingman in 2004 from Colorado, was killed in Afghanistan on July 23 after he and a fellow sailor strayed far from their base in Kabul and were attacked by the Taliban. The second sailor, Jarod Newlove, is missing and the Taliban claims to have captured him.

Newlove graduated from high school in Seattle and says he enlisted in the Navy when he was 19, according to his MySpace profile. Newlove says he served five years and remained as a reservist. At the time of writing on his social media profile, he said his wife, Kim, was expecting a baby boy.

Messages and phone calls sent to his wife and relatives were not immediately returned.

McNeley was assigned to Assault Craft Unit One (ACU-1), San Diego.

Colorado state Rep. Jim Kerr told The Denver Post that McNeley was expected to return to the U.S. in August. Kerr said McNeley was his wife’s nephew and that his family found out about his death July 26.

McNeley’s father, George McNeley, a fire official in Encinitas, Calif., wrote to his staff saying his son had been killed, according to The North County Times. Encinitas Mayor Dan Dalager told the newspaper that he was heartbroken at the news.

“I had been reading about it in the paper and thinking how awful it must be for the families — then to find out today that it was George’s son,” Dalager said. He said he and the city were hoping to help the McNeleys in whatever way they could.

McNeley’s mother, Sharon Wood of Kingman, asked the motorcycle group to throw the going-away party for him in his hometown, Tromba said.

Tromba said about 100 members surprised McNeley after a family photo shoot and escorted him to the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Kingman for a barbecue. He said McNeley took the time to personally speak to everyone at the event, and then made a big deal out of a small gift Tromba’s young son had made for him.

“He’s just a very, very insightful, impressive young man, very charismatic, easy to talk to,” Tromba said.

The Patriot Guard, which has chapters across the nation, is best known for escorting the bodies of fallen military members at their funerals. Tromba said he hopes the family allows his group to have that honor.

McNeley received care packages mailed out by a local nonprofit, which included letters from students at Cerbat Elementary in Kingman. McNeley wrote back, thanking the students for their thoughtfulness. The response appeared as a letter to the editor in the Feb. 2, 2010, edition of the Kingman Daily Miner.

“I thank you and all who put time and effort into [the packages],” he wrote. “It was very nice and unexpected. .... The thoughts are returned.”

NATO officials were unable to say what the two service members were doing in such a dangerous part of eastern Afghanistan.

The sailors were instructors at a counterinsurgency school for Afghan security forces, according to senior military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. The school was headquartered in Kabul and had classrooms outside the capital, but they were never assigned anywhere near where the body of the sailor was recovered, the officials said.


Body of 2nd sailor recovered in Afghanistan

By Amir Shah and Deb Riechmann

The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — A second sailor who went missing in a dangerous part of eastern Afghanistan was found dead and his body recovered, a senior U.S. military official and Afghan officials said July 29.

The family of Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, a 25-year-old from the Seattle area, had been notified of his death, the U.S. military official said on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to disclose the information.

Newlove and Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Justin McNeley went missing July 23 in Logar province. NATO recovered the body of McNeley — a 30-year-old father of two from Wheatridge, Colo. — in the area July 25.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press in Kabul that two days ago the Taliban left the “body of a dead American soldier for the U.S. forces” to recover. The Taliban said McNeley was killed in a firefight and insurgents had captured Newlove. Mujahid offered no explanation for Newlove’s death.

NATO officials have not offered an explanation as to why the two service members were in such a dangerous part of eastern Afghanistan.

The sailors were individual augmentees at a counterinsurgency school for Afghan security forces, according to senior military officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. The school was headquartered in Kabul and had classrooms outside the capital, but they were never assigned anywhere near where McNeley’s body was recovered, officials said.

The chief of police of Logar province, Gen. Mustafa Mosseini, said coalition troops removed Newlove’s body about 5:30 p.m. July 28.

Newlove was shot once in the head and twice in the torso, according to Logar provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh. He speculated Newlove may have been wounded in a shootout with the Taliban and died because there was no medical care available in the rugged mountain area.

Mosseini said he thought the body washed downstream after rains July 27.

He noted in the past several days, the Taliban were being pressured by coalition forces in the area.

“The security was being tightened,” Mosseini said. “Searches continued from both air and the ground. Militants were moving into Pakistan.”

Mohammad Rahim Amin, the local government chief in Baraki Barak district, also said coalition forces recovered a body about 5:30 p.m. and flew it by helicopter to a coalition base in Logar province, about 40 miles away.

“The coalition told our criminal police director of the district that the body belonged to the foreign soldier they were looking for,” Amin said.

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