Doing His Duty
In a mere 22 years, Spc. Chris Neiberger accomplished many things, including 2 years at Florida State University and 11 months of a 15-month tour in Iraq as an Army Infantryman.
"It didn't surprise me when he joined the Army, because he had a belief in what the mission was and he believed in that mission," Neiberger's former Scoutmaster Steven Gamewell said.
Beliefs and ideals were an important part of the 2003 Gainesville High School graduate's upbringing according to his sister Ami Neiberger-Miller.
"He learned from an early age from our parents that we all have an obligation to give back to the community," Neiberger-Miller explained.
Neiberger's parents, Richard and Mary Neiberger, were volunteering at an Orlando camp for sick children when they received the news that an improvised explosive device killed Neiberger in Baghdad.
"His family is so strong," Jenny Gamewell, Neiberger's Sunday School teacher, said. "They lived their faith, and they lived The Scout Law."
Living The Scout Law was how the Eagle Scout lived, and obeying The Scout Oath was how he died - doing his best to do his duty to God and his Country. According to his sister, Neiberger took great pride in being a soldier and it was evident as soon as he returned home from basic training.
"He always had a little bit of a slouch to him before," she recalled. "He seemed to be a lot taller when he got back and much straighter."
Despite the slouch, others said he was already walking tall and straight before the military, Gamewell described Neiberger as a leader-in-the-making before he was even out of his teens.
"To be empathetic as you grow in the ranks of the Boy Scouts and to remember those young boys and give back," Gamewell said. "That's usually the sign of a quality leader."
A memorial service will be held Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Northwest Gainesville, and then Neiberger will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Neiberger will be remembered as a man who loved life, had a great sense of humor and was open to new ideas.
Instead of flowers, his family asked that donations be given to the Trinity United Methodist Church for the Casa Del Rey Orphanage in Mexico, where Neiberger performed mission work.
By Ted Latiak, WCJB TV20 News.
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