LIMA, OH, USA U.S. Army SPC, COMPANY C, 1ST BATTALION, 64TH ARMOR, FORT STEWART, GA BAGHDAD, IRAQ 09/19/2007
During training, Christian Monroe Neff had forgotten to clean his driver’s hole in a tank. A superior told him he’d have to sleep outside without his sleeping bag. So Neff set about building what amounted to a nest for himself, pine needles and all. The men let him do his thing before they said they were kidding. Neff gave a stare he was known for, before replying, “Dang, that sucks.”
Neff, 19, of Lima, Ohio, was killed Sept. 19 by a bomb blast in Baghdad. He was a 2006 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Stewart, GA.
In school, Neff represented the computer applications class on student council, held an office in the local Business Professionals of America chapter, and was on the honor roll. “He was all about the grades,” his friend Allison Pollock said. He also organized food drives, fund-raisers for local charities and recycling days.
PFC Neff joined the Army months before graduating from Apollo Career Center and Shawnee High School in 2006, said Darin Grimm, who teaches Apollo’s computer applications programming, which Neff studied.” That’s what he wanted to do. He wanted to serve his country,” Mr. Grimm said of PFC Neff’s decision to join the Army, along with one of his close friends.
When PFC Neff came home on leaves, he returned to the school – in full uniform – to visit his teacher, often addressing Mr. Grimm’s students about preparing for the future.
“His thing was, ‘You need to apply yourself at everything you do – whether you think it’s relevant or not,’ ” Mr. Grimm said.
His death struck his teacher as a tragedy.” He didn’t have an opportunity to live his life,” Mr. Grimm said. “But I know he really loved what he was doing.”
Apollo Superintendent Chris Pfister said that if Neff’s family is agreeable, school leaders want to plant a tree in his memory in Apollo’s veterans memorial garden.
Alan Pollock, a teacher at Apollo and the father of Allison Pollock, said a stone monument in the garden also is being considered for PFC Neff, who is the career center’s first graduate to die in Iraq.
He is survived by his parents, William and Nancy.