Christopher T. Neiberger – Specialist, United States Army

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Specialist Christopher T. Neiberger, 22, of Gainesville, Florida, died August 6, 2007, in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device.He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

A 22-year-old soldier was killed in Iraq from injuries suffered by an improvised explosive device, his family and the military said Tuesday.

Specialist Christopher T. Neiberger, 22, of Gainesville, Florida, died Monday, the Department of Defense said. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

Neiberger was born in the Bronx, New York, but was raised in Gainesville, his sister, Ami Neiberger-Miller told The Associated Press. Her brother graduated from Gainesville High School in 2003 and attended Florida State University for two years before joining the Army in 2005, Neiberger-Miller said.

“He always wanted to be a soldier. He was the kind of person who grew up loving to play with things that crackled and exploded,” Neiberger-Miller said. “He was very drawn to the military.”

Neiberger had been in Iraq since September 2006 and was serving a 15-month tour, his sister said.

The soldier, known by family members as “the master of one-liners” was considering going to West Point and making the military his career, Neiberger-Miller said.

“He was very much in the moment,” Neiberger-Miller said. “He was proud to be a soldier.”

Besides his sister, Neiberger is survived by two brothers, his father, Richard, and his mother Mary.

A memorial service will be held Sunday at Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville. Neiberger will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., his sister said.

A Gainesville High School graduate killed in Iraq was remembered Sunday for his commitment to helping people from the streets of Gainesville to an orphanage in Mexico.

Hundreds packed Trinity United Methodist Church for a memorial service honoring Christopher Todd Neiberger. The U.S. Army infantryman was killed by a roadside bomb August 6, 2007, just three days after his 22nd birthday.

Robert Neiberger remembered his older brother as the kind of person who stopped to talk with a homeless man in downtown Gainesville for a half-hour before giving money to him.

“He thought that indifference is everything that is wrong with humanity,” he said.

Christopher Neiberger was an Eagle Scout and 2003 graduate of Gainesville High. He had been serving a 15-month deployment in Iraq since September. He will be buried Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery.

Robert Neiberger said his brother felt a duty to go to Iraq, listing the country and Germany on his military contract as places he wanted to serve. He said his brother went on to earn nine ribbons and medals, including a posthumously awarded Purple Heart.

Friends and family remembered Neiberger's quick wit, passion for writing and service in foreign lands. Scout leader Paul Davenport said Neiberger embodied the word “volunteer,” participating in missions to Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

“He had the courage to stand for what he thought was right,” Davenport said. “He put feet to his faith.”

The Rev. Dan Johnson, pastor of Trinity United Methodist, told a story of Neiberger pushing his then-long hair into a cap so as to not offend girls in the Mexican orphanage. He said Neiberger's kindness started early in his life, and he told a story about Neiberger giving a balloon to a kindergarten classmate who burst hers.

“There was a kindness about Chris that was remarkable,” he said.

Alachua County Manager Randall Reid read a proclamation dedicating the day to Neiberger. U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, who represents part of Gainesville and the county, recalled the words of Abraham Lincoln to a woman who had lost her children in the Civil War.

“Chris gave the ultimate sacrifice upon the alter of freedom,” Stearns said, adding: “It is not the press who protect our rights of free speech. It is people like Chris.”

Robert Neiberger said his brother's favorite book was “All Quiet on the Western Front,” recalling the insights into the book that his brother gave him. He said his brother was a writer who was working on a screenplay set in Iraq.

“He had a million things running through his mind at any given time,” he said.

His father, Richard, a pediatric nephrologist at Shands at the University of Florida, spoke briefly to thank the community for an outpouring of support.

Johnson said the Neiberger family has shown him the love they continue to feel for Chris.

“I've learned from you that while life is fragile, love is forever,” he said.





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