Lieutenant Colonel Neal initially enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1998 as an Aviation Supply Clerk before attending Officer Candidate School in 2002. After commissioning, The Basic School, and flight school, he was designated a CH-53E pilot and assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 (HMH-465) at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. While at HMH-465, he served in various billets over three deployments, including Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) and ultimately Operations officer.
After departing the squadron in 2010 to join the Third Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Aviation Training Systems Site (MATSS) as the Operations officer and Flight Leadership Standardization Evaluator (FLSE), Captain Neal was selected to join the Foreign Area Officer program for the country of Japan. In 2010, Captain Neal left Miramar for Monterey, CA to attend the Naval Postgraduate School with follow-on training to study the Japanese language at the Defense Language Institute. At the completion of his language training and master’s degree in Northeast Asian security studies in 2013, Major Neal moved to Tokyo, Japan for In Country Training (ICT) where he attended the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) Command and General Staff College at Camp Meguro. After graduation in 2015, he was assigned as the III MEF Liaison to the Japan Ground Self Defense Force and relocated to Japan’s Western Army Headquarters in Kumamoto, Japan.
Following assignment in Japan, Major Neal was assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in 2016, where he assumed the role of Executive Officer. In 2019, Lieutenant Colonel Neal was assigned as the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Executive Officer. In addition to the 2019 deployment with the 26th MEU, Lieutenant Colonel Neal has deployed with the 15th MEU and twice with the 31st MEU.
He has flown over 1900 mishap-free flight hours, and his awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with numeral 3, and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with 1 gold star in lieu of second award.