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Efforts support soldier's family

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GINA R. HEINE
May 1, 2012
— Area residents are rallying support for the family of an Orfordville soldier killed Wednesday in Afghanistan, including one effort that has spread nationwide.

A memorial fund also has been set up at Orfordville's Farmers & Merchants Bank, and donations are being accepted for paper flags in Neal's honor at local businesses.


The porch lights on homes from Orfordville to Florida to Washington state are staying lit until the body of Spc. Benjamin Neal, 21, is brought home. It's an effort that started on Facebook called "Lighting The Way To Bring Ben Home."


The action symbolizes the wait for Neal's return, "as it is a long process and wait for a fallen hero to come home," Neal's cousin Denise Neal wrote on the Facebook page.


Benjamin Neal died in Kandahar province after enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Defense.


Neal was the son of Don and Trish Neal, who run a dairy farm in Spring Valley Township in western Rock County.


While funeral arrangements are yet to be decided, Neal's family wants people to pray for other members of the military.


"Don't forget about the other troops in Afghanistan, the Middle East or stationed anywhere in the world," said Mike Eggleston, first vice commander of the Orfordville American Legion.


Eggleston has talked with Neal's family members, who said they want people to remember the rest of the troops protecting Americans. People should pray for the troops' safety and their families, "with the hopes that no one has to go through" what the Neal family is experiencing, Eggleston said.


Nobody knows what the funeral arrangements will be, Eggleston said. The military is following the soldier's wishes, stated in writing before deployment.


Neal's wife and parents have returned from receiving Neal's remains on the East Coast, but it could be several days before his body is flown home, Eggleston said.


Local American Legion members stand ready to do whatever the family requests. The legion, the Orfordville Fire Department and villages of Orfordville and Footville have offered their support and services, Eggleston said.


"The major player in this is the family and the United States Army," he said. "We're just there for support to do whatever we can, whatever we're asked to do in addition to the military."


MEMORIAL FUND SET UP

A memorial fund has been set up at Farmers & Merchants Bank in Orfordville to benefit Spc. Benjamin Neal's family and wife. Checks can be made payable to the Orfordville American Legion with a note in the memo that it's for the Ben Neal memorial account. Donations can be mailed to the bank at P.O. Box 499, Orfordville, WI 53576, or dropped off at the bank at 303 E. Spring St., Orfordville.


PORCH LIGHT SUPPORT

An effort that started on Facebook called "Lighting The Way To Bring Ben Home" is spreading across the nation. Participants leave their porch lights on until Neal's remains come home to Orfordville.


"Just a silent way to show we're thinking of him, his family and his wife. Day and Night. Not to be turned off until he is able to come home to his family. Anyone that wants to participate is welcome," the Facebook page states.



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