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Idaho Enterprise

William (Bill) Neal named Honored Veteran of the Fourth of July Parade

The Fourth of July committee has named Bill Neal the Honored Veteran for 2022.  The following information about his life, his family, and his career was provided by his family. 

Bill was born in Minidoka, Idaho on 20 January 1934 to Jesse William Neal and Virginia Ireta Vroman. Bill was mainly raised by his grandparents, William Job Neal and Maria Bradshaw of Stone, Idaho. His father worked for the railroad, and his mother relocated to Palo Alto, Califonia. Bill’s father was a good father and Bill missed him while he was away for work. Bill has a foster sister, Sherril Murray or Lakeport, Callifornia, who was adopted by Bill’s mother.

A typical day for Bill as a child was growing up on the farm. He loved to go to the creek, fish, ride his horse, and help out on the farm in Stone. He drove the tractor for his Grandpa Neal. Bill would help milk the cows, feed, and do the chores. He remembers that he would drive the Ford tractor with big iron wheels. Bill would have to get under the steering wheel and push

down in order to get the clutch pedal down to stop the tractor. He grew up with a friend who lived down the road named Dewey Cottle. They called him Sonny. Bill was part of the 4H group and traveled to Moscow, Idaho for a couple of days. He remembers going over White Bird Pass.

As a young adult, Bill attended high school at Bear River High School. He rode the bus from Stone to Tremonton. He competed on the high school’s swimming team. 

He attended American Falls High School for his sophomore year where he played basketball. He graduated from Bear River High School with the class of 1952. The Korean War had started in 1950, and he remembers hearing about the events of the war. He remembers his favorite class being “raising hell.”

 He loved his U.S. History class that was taught by Mrs. Whiteside. He remembers a lot of his high school friends. He was good friends with Junior Lish (Tremonton, Utah), DeeLynn Peterson (Penrose, Utah), and Kay Harris (Stone). During high school, he and his friends loved to attend the regional dances held on the 24th of July, Labor Day, and on New Year’s. He remembers the hardest part of growing up was being away from his dad. The best part of growing up was being in Stone, working, and being outdoors.

Bill started working for a television company installing antennas after high school. He would install them on the roof. 

He first saw his future wife, Arvilla Marie Evans, at a dance in Stone, Idaho in September of 1954. They were supposed to be married on May 26, 1954, but Bill was drafted into the Korean War and was put into the Reserve Unit out of Ogden, Utah. He was sent to the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for training. He was there for five weeks, returned home, and proposed to Marie. They were to be married May 26, but Bill received a letter from the draft board. The letter explained that he would be reporting on May 26. 

They decided to move the wedding up one day, and they were married on May 25, 1954. They spent their honeymoon in the New House Hotel in Salt Lake City. Bill would need to report the next morning at 9:00 a.m. in Fort Douglas. His welcoming sergeant asked where Bill had been and why he was so tired. Bill explained that he was married the previous day. The sergeant told Bill to go home. He later was notified that he would need to report to Camp Pendleton on June 15, 1954. 

He and Marie moved to Corning, California where Bill would help haul hay while he was waiting to report to the Marine training base. Bill got on a Greyhound Bus and reported to Camp Pendleton. He was there for six weeks. Bill was able to get housing and Marie joined him on base. He was called up with several of his crew members for their station orders. Many were assigned to Korea, Japan, Midway, and others. 

Bill was called up and assigned to the Cold Weather Training Battalion in the High Sierras, which was in Bridgeport, CA. He was able to use his truck driving experience for good use. He was happy he was staying in the states. He would have served anywhere, but he was glad he could stay close to his new wife.

They moved to Carson City, Nevada around Thanksgiving time. They lived in a small upstairs apartment. They had their first child, Eugene Neal, in Carson City, Nevada. They found a house to rent that was just off of base, but Bill would get into trouble for leaving base. Bill was assigned to drive a bus that would take recruits from the base and back to Carson City, Nevada. Bill lived in Carson City for 22 months until he was placed on leave.

Bill and Marie moved back to Ogden, Utah where Bill worked for Ogden City as a bus driver for 1.5 years. He then worked for Western Electric. He was transferred to Phoenix, Arizona until he found out that the Salt Lake City area was back up and running. His superintendent did not want to transfer him back to SLC, so Bill took two weeks of vacation. He did not end up working for Western Electric in SLC, but found out the Thiokol was hiring. He wanted to be closer to home. Bill and Marie now had three children, Eugene, Ireta, and Max. He worked for Thiokol for seven years.

Bill and Marie then moved to Santa Rosa to work in San Francisco to work in the shipping yards. Clair was born. Bill was in an accident in a submarine while working in San Francisco. He had his lungs burned. He and Marie decided they would move back to Malad where Bill worked for Oneida County and then Oneida County Sheriff Department for ten years. He later ran for Sheriff and worked for five years before his retirement on 1 April 1998.

Bill and Marie loved to be camp hosts in their retirement. They camp hosted out to Stone, Idaho at the reservoir. They also camp hosted at the Malad Summit and Palisades Reservoir. They loved meeting new people and taking care of the campgrounds.

Looking back on his life, Bill would not change too much. He sees his experiences as valuable and worthwhile. He and Marie were married for 67 years. She passed away on 1 June 2021. Bill and Marie have four children, 13 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren, and one great great-grandchild.