a new azimuth

the website of john l. neel  www.neel505.com

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"Happy is the man, who, like Ulysses, has won the Golden Fleece, and then returns, experienced and knowledgeable, to spend the rest of his life among his family." ~ Joachim du Bellay

I am surrounded by an amazing family.  My life is enriched by them though I am not sure there is a reciprocal relationship. 

Through these folks I have gained what I call "peripheral children."  From the Army and by my last job, I have gathered a small number of young friends and great Americans I call my "Inner Circle."

Here are the most important players in 505 World.


I'm this girl's husband.  I live in her house.

She's amazing at everything she does and everyone loves her.  My children are the strong, intelligent, motivated adults that they have become because of her.  She raised them; I was away.  She was the ultimate Cool Mom.

I merely stand back and watch her greatness, resulting in a heavenly existence and delicious food.

She's a Birmingham girl, born and raised.  I met her at Church.  I recommend that.

Born in Fort Bragg in the year of the 82nd, Jay was probably destined to serve, and he did, right after high school, assigned to Korea, then Fort Hood, with a deployment to Iraq, and then to Recruiting.

He was Signal Corps.

Now he's a big wig in Computer Security after earing his BS from Maryland and his MS from Carnegie Mellon.

He's also a great dad, husband, and friend.  I love running my wild -ass ideas and plans by him.  I'm his dad.

Jay's wife, E;s best friend and college room mate, my daughter, and mother of my granddaughter, KS is also a fine artist, runs her own business, and .contracts to a large architectural  firm adjusting their drawings.

She's a supermom and wife.

I'm convinced that one day, she'll take my side.

My baby is an Army officer and so much more.  She earned her BA from Mary Baldwin, Commissioned through VMI AROTC, earned her MA from American University, has been assigned to Fort Bragg, Fort Eustace, Fort Gordon, Fort Stewart, with deployments to Germany, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.  She's Signal Corps and a paratrooper.

She just finished CGSC, was promoted to Major, and is now in Kansas.  She, finally brought home a guy I really like and married him last Spring. 

Her pup, Cooper, and I are best buds.

This guy finally showed up.

Army officer, Acquisitions, and an all around great guy; married my daughter.  Assigned to Germany with deployments to Afghanistan and Jordan, he sna E are finally assigned together.

Raised in Minnesota and schooled in Alaska, I wondered if i would like him.  Too Easy!

He is the perfect guy for my baby.

The grandson is too smart, quick witted, funny, and sharp tongued.  I have stopped trying to mince words with him.  He's a fine athlete, video game master, and the sweetest guy.  He is good at everything he tries.

He and Kady are best friends.

This one is mine.  I claimed her the moment I saw her.  There is never a visit when she doesn't have me telling stories, or playing guitar with her, or playing a rousing game of hide and seek.  She has even talked me into playing LOL Dolls.

One day she asked her dad why we see the moon sometimes at night and sometimes at day.  Her dad told her to ask me and she sat there and listened to my whole explanation and totally got it...at 4 years old.

Good days include Spirit on Netflix.

The mother of my Grandson and my friend.  She was always my favorite of my kid's high school friends.  Though things didn't work out with Jay, she will always be my daughter.

After earning her BA from Radford, she got a degree in Occupational Therapy, and now works at a prominent hospital  in Virginia.

Country girl, farmer's daughter, and the girl next door when my dad came home from the war.  Raised three wild Neel boys.

Avid bird watcher, she had a serious green thumb and was an amazing Southern cook.  Administered the monthly payroll at UAB for years.

From her, we boys got our spiritual side, interest in nature, love of music, and gentlemanly behavior.

We lost her to Alzheimer's long before her passing.

Genius.  Every kid thinks his dad is smart, but this dad was truly  Brilliant. Raised on west-central Alabama, he joined the Army during WWII and repaired radios and radar on bombers with the 8th Army Air Force.

After the war, he met and married mom, got degrees in Chemistry and Physics i from Livingston State, taught high school and ran a radio repair shop.  Hired by the  signal department at Southern Railway, he became the Supervisor of Communications for the company.

He was the finest teacher I ever had.  From him, we boys got our willingness to try anything, and love of baseball, science, and debate. 

During his long fight with cancer, taught himself to program basic computers of his own design and to read, write, and speak German.
Sil (my spelling)

My Friend who also happened to be my mother-in-law.  They say have a look the mom before you marry the girl.  Well, there you go.

I met her long before I met her daughter.  She and husband, Bill, were prominent folks at church.  We called her Ranger Lady in those days for her support of us as we went into the military...and a lot of us did.

Her spiritual support and outreach was world-wide, and the world lost  a star when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  She was gone so quickly.

She also helped me here, as editor and proofreader, and in life and my bullshit monitor.  she could cancel one of my wild-assed, half-brained ideas with a LOOK.
Wild Bill

One of the most honorable Christian men I have ever met.  I owe him forever for giving into Sil's desire to have a third child late in lfe and then giving me his consent to marry that daughter ninteen years later.

He served in the Air Force as F-84 Jet mechanic and crew chief.  Later he would make a living in real estate.  He was the Vice president of Cole Properties before retiring.

At the loss of his great love, Bill grieved himself to death.

My amazing older brother, artist, professor.

He was a great role model for a younger brother, Scout, good student, followed the rules, but I did the absolute opposite.  But he kept trying, certainly making my first date successful by dressing me, making sure I had enough money, and making me check the clock.

I'm happy he is getting the national recognition he and his art deserve.

Drives foreign cars. Plays golf.

I need to, one day, take current photos of his family.

Younger brother; the best of the three. Musician, trauma nurse (RN), great American hunter.

Loved animals and animals loved him.  Great dog handler. Volunteered his time at emergency animal clinics and with the Coast Guard Axillary.

Died by accidental shooting at 36-years-old.
High Speed

Twin brother of different mothers.  Helped start the church.

We served at the same time, only never together, him being all high-speed and shit...101st, Ranger Bat, SF.  But we remained friends throughout.  He comes to every family event.

Retired now, running his own company, but, still, don't mess with this guy.

Alabama grad and fan.  I hate this about him.

Another church friend and one of our closest. Actually, she ad Kim became close when I was in Turkey, I just inserted myself in that friendship.

She is my dancing, smoking, and drinking partner.  She is also our guide to new places to eat in Birmingham; she i s never wrong.

As an Alabama grade school teacher by trade, she has lived a tough life.

Army buddy, by far, the best soldier I have ever met.  He's the best shot, fighter, navigator, leader, and scout, and i have worked with a LOT of great soldiers.  He's the second best jumpmaster ever.

He fought in Grenada (Urgent Fury), Panama (Just Cause), and Iraq (Desert Shield/Desert Storm), and served in Korea and in the 82nd.

He is also fro m Alabama. He lives there now, with his lovely bride, kids, and grandkids, driving a big truck.

Another goddamn Alabama fan.

I don't see him enough.

Computer genius, personal help-desk, traveling partner, Kady's best friend.

Originally from Lexington, Kady met him on the internet, way back in 1997.  He quickly became a part of the family, and a voice of reason for all players, especially me.

Since getting out of prison, he lives on his own farm in a nearby state.

Now, that's just fuckin' funny.
Boss Lady

My most faithful Turk Arkadaş (friend).  I met her playing pitch with a buddy on the Birinci Kordon i Izmir in 2001.   We became fast friends.

She and close friend Berna ran Divas Ajans, a modeling agency in Izmir.  I found myself there a lot.

Since i left, she has moved around a lot, to Germany, then England, and is now back in Turkey building a family.  Her little girls are beautiful.  Her husband looks like De Niro.

Smart, fun, photographer, dog lover, kindred-spirit, wise-ass.  I met here when I was Interim coach of the Hockey Team, she was dating a guy we hired to take over for me.

She worked for a while at the counseling office and the only person there that I trusted and who "got" VMI.  It was a sad day when she left Lex to work on her masters degree, but we have stayed in touch.

Just before she left, I made her an honorary Lost Boy for watching the last season of Lost with me.  Inner Circle.
Ryan (aka Sweetie)

Young friend, Inner Circle, former thorn-in-my-side, married to a great American hero, mom of two cute boys.

We became close at the death of one of her Brother Rats and one of my former RSMs.  I tried to be there for her, she was definitely there for me.

Since, she has posed numerous times for my camera and I learn something new every time.  It's is very hard to take a bad photo of her, so she makes me look good.

Former RSM, First Captain, Lost Boy, Soldier.

There he stands, in the center of his universe.

Drove Bess.  Inner Circle.

That's it.  That is all I'm saying.

Air Force PJ and all the rest.  The most trained guy I know.  George C. Marshall misses him.

This shot wasn't meant to look heroic, it just couldn't help it.
Drove Bess.  Inner Circle.

Same thing.  That's all you get.

The one person I kept from my time supporting the Cotillion here in Virginia.

She's become a member of the family, but too far away these days.    There was a time when we could count on her being on most trips and at every holiday and event.

I liked her best anyway.  Once my friend, she gravitated to Kady, like everyone does.

Why is she a Seahawks and Georgia Fan?  I don't know.
Super-duper Cooper

My Dog, Best Boy, Walking Partner

I didn't think E should get a dog.  Now, I can't picture life without him.  He keeps me fit, helped me recover after surgery, and makes me laugh.  He's smart, well trained, well behaved, and so handsome.

Chicks dig him.
Fryn (aka DJ)

W&L graduate, Marine, belly dancer, beautiful, sweet, and my favorite photo model.

She entered the Inner Circle by way of the VMI Cheerleaders, back when we tried that experiment.  She stuck around, they didn't.

Now she's out there saving people hit by fires, tornadoes, hurricanes...
I need to add Brian to this list

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