The first thing you should know about our Irishman of the Year, Mike Neil, is that, rather than ride in a convertible as our honorees usually do, he insisted that he instead march with the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. The Friendly Sons have appointed him their “Parade Master for Life,” so in this year’s Parade you will see Mike leading the lads and their precision marching unit as he has done so well for over 20 years.
For the record, Brigadier General Michael I. Neil was born in Long Beach, CA and graduated from San Diego State University in 1962 with a B.A. degree in Pre-Law, and an L.L.B. degree from Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley in 1966. After completion of Office Candidates School at Quantico, VA, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and upon graduation he was ordered to the 1st Marine Division for duty in the Republic of Vietnam.
He served as a platoon commander with Company D, 15th Battalion, 7th Marines and was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in action and later received the Navy Cross as a result of combat action. He then became an aerial observer assigned with the Air Observer Section, 1st Marine Division at Marble Mountain and was awarded six Air Medals. Returning to the U.S. in July, 1968, he was assigned to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, for duty in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate serving as both a defense attorney and prosecutor in the legal offices of MCRD, until his release from active duty March 1970.
Thereafter he attended the Reserve Amphibious Warfare School, the Reserve Command and Staff College, participated in the Reserve Counterpart Training and served as the Officer-in-Charge, Battalion, 7th Marines as the Battalion S-3 Tactical Exercise Control Group for the 5th Marine’s Combined Arms Exercise at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, CA. He was then assigned to extended active duty with 1st Marine Amphibious Force, serving as Executive Officer of the Exercise Control Group Freedom Pennant I and II in Perth, Australia.
He served as Commanding Officer, 4th Tank Battalion located in San Diego and then with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Reserve Augmentation Unit as the Assistant G-3 for Plans, participating as Commanding General, IMEF during war games, including the annual Global War Game at Newport, RI. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1989. In September, 1990 he took command of Camp Pendleton as a result of Operation Desert Shield. At the time of his retirement on August 1, 1993, General Neil was the Assistant Division Commander of the 4th Marine Division.
In civilian life he is president and lead attorney of the law firm of Neil, Dymott, Frank, Mcfall & Trexler, specializing in civil litigation. He and his wife Jan have two children, Megan Louise and Sean Brendan.