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Soldiers give a final salute to Spc. Christopher Neiberger at the memorial ceremony at Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt, Germany, for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division soldier killed in Iraq on Aug. 6, 2007.
Soldiers give a final salute to Spc. Christopher Neiberger at the memorial ceremony at Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt, Germany, for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division soldier killed in Iraq on Aug. 6, 2007. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
Soldiers give a final salute to Spc. Christopher Neiberger at the memorial ceremony at Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt, Germany, for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division soldier killed in Iraq on Aug. 6, 2007.
Soldiers give a final salute to Spc. Christopher Neiberger at the memorial ceremony at Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt, Germany, for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division soldier killed in Iraq on Aug. 6, 2007. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
Spc. Christopher Neiberger
Spc. Christopher Neiberger ()
The honor guard fire volleys at the conclusion of the memorial service for Spc. Christopher Neiberger, at Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt, Germany, on Wednesday.
The honor guard fire volleys at the conclusion of the memorial service for Spc. Christopher Neiberger, at Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt, Germany, on Wednesday. (Michael Abrams / S&S)

Mideast edition, Thursday, August 23, 2007

SCHWEINFURT, Germany — He’d told one of his buddies that he wasn’t afraid to die in Iraq.

“I’m OK with dying here, because I’ve lived a good life.”

Spc. Christopher T. Neiberger died Aug. 6, three days after his 22nd birthday.

Killed instantly by a roadside bomb while patrolling as a gunner, Neiberger was remembered Wednesday in Schweinfurt, and previously in Iraq, as a man who was very careful with his words, a man whom everyone treated like a little brother.

“He was like a little brother to all of us — a soldier we cared about because he cared about all of us,” said Staff Sgt. Luis A. Castro, reading remarks given previously in Iraq.

Upon initially meeting Neiberger, his company commander in Company C, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment “Vanguards” thought he came across as goofy and slow. While many would call the native of Gainesville, Fla., goofy, slow he was not.

He’d studied European history in college before enlisting in September 2005, and was considered a great traveling companion with a fountain of useless knowledge, read Pfc. Timothy Spencer. He had dreams of possibly becoming a teacher some day.

“It was a scary thought to have Neiberger as a shaper of young minds,” Spencer read, adding after the ceremony that he was goofy. “He always looked like he was tired, but he was always ready to go.”

Neiberger had a love for his family — parents Richard and Mary Neiberger, sister Ami Neiberger-Miller and brothers Eric and Robert; for his church — he had participated in mission trips to Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico; and for his fellow soldiers, who often referred to him as Nei-Nei or Nei-Bear.

Neiberger’s sister told Lt. Col. Robert Whittle, commander of Schweinfurt’s Task Force Guardian, that her brother had always wanted to be a soldier, always playing with things that crackled and exploded while growing up.

Neiberger, an Eagle Scout, was also considering applying to the U.S. Military Academy, Whittle added.

Task Force Guardian’s chaplain, Col. James M. Brown, read words given by the Vanguard chaplain, Capt. Seth George, in Iraq, who remembered Neiberger as someone who never complained, always had an off-the- wall remark handy, and could be counted on to make the best out of any situation.

“He treated others with a deep sense of respect ... he had a rare wisdom from which all of us benefited and learned,” Brown said.

“(Neiberger) thought that indifference was everything that is wrong with humanity,” Brown read.

Richard Neiberger told his son’s leaders that he’d died believing he was making a difference.

Neiberger was the 21st Vanguard soldier killed during the present deployment. The Vanguards’ higher headquarters, 2nd “Dagger” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, has now lost 57. Having been in Iraq just shy of one year, the 4,000-plus soldiers are due home in October.

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