The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division rear detachment and Fort Riley honored Capt. James Nehl during a Nov. 29 memorial ceremony at Morris Hill Chapel.
Nehl died Nov. 9 in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, from wounds sustained from small arms fire while on patrol.
“He followed the infantryman motto of ‘Follow Me.’ He was a leader and led from the front, never asking his Soldiers to do anything he wouldn’t do himself,” said Maj. Brad Laauwe, 4th IBCT rear detachment commander. “Capt. James Nehl was not like most other captains in the Army. No, he was definitely unique. James was older than most of his peers, enlisting in the Army in 1993, right out of high school, and serving 14 years before joining the officer ranks. Because of that, James brought with him a wealth of knowledge and experience when he came and joined the ‘Ranger’ Battalion at Fort Riley. More importantly, he brought his style of leadership and became an inspiring example for others to follow.”
Master Sgt. Francisco Rogers, a friend of Nehl’s through his many years of service, said he felt lucky to have known Nehl on a personal level.
“I was lucky to know him as the husband, the father and the hunter. All these he took seriously and did very well,” said Master Sgt. Francisco Rogers, a friend of Nehl’s through his many years of service.
“His legacy will live on by those who look at his life (and) measure it against themselves and are inspired to become better leaders, better Soldiers, better people,” Laauwe added.
Nehl was born April 16, 1975, in Reedsport, Ore., and graduated from Reedsport High School in 1993. Shortly after graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and completed One Station Unit training as an infantryman at Fort Benning, Ga. Upon Graduation from the Airborne Course and Ranger Indoctrination program, he was assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, as a mortarman.
Nehl was quickly promoted through the ranks, from private to staff sergeant and held many positions, from mortar team leader, fire team leader and ranger rifle squad leader. In 1998, Nehl left the Ranger regiment and took a position in the G3 section, U.S. Army Alaska, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. While stationed at Alaska, he finished his bachelor’s degree.
Upon graduating Officer Candidate School, Nehl was commissioned as a second lieutenant July 13, 2006. In 2007, he graduated from Infantry Basic Officer Leader’s Course and was sent to his first duty station as an officer at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. While there, he served as a platoon leader, executive officer and scout platoon leader for the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment. In August 2009, Nehl deployed to Iraq for one year in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In August 2011, he attended the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course at Fort Benning, Ga. Upon completion of MCCC, he was then assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT. In May 2012, Nehl deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as the battalion plans officer. In August 2012, Nehl assumed command of Co. D, 2nd Bn., 16th Inf. Regt.
His awards include the Bronze Star Medal – posthumously; Purple Heart Medal- posthumously; NATO Medal – posthumously; Meritorious Service medal – second award: Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal – second award; Army Good Conduct Medal – fourth award; Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star: Iraq Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Humanitarian Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon – Third Award; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; Combat Infantry Badge; Expert Infantry Badge; Master Parachutist Badge; Ranger Tab; Jordanian Parachutist Badge, Royal Thai Army Airborne Wings; German Armed Forces Parachutist Badge; Joint Meritorious Unit Award; and Overseas Service Bar – Second Award.
Nehl is survived by his wife, Sherri Winkleman Nehl; one son, Alexander hunter Nehl; his mother, Sandra Nehl; and two sisters, Naomi and Charlene.
By Sgt. Scott Lamberson
4th IBCT Public Affairs