We have a good friend whom we met during our time as owners of a wedding venue. He is a photographer who was specializing in wedding photography at the time. His name is Neal Carpenter.
Over the years we saw what a great spirit he has. He truly cared for each bride and their families. He even donated his services for a couple that was being donated a wedding.
Neal has been an inspiration to many young photographers and helped many of them get started in their own businesses.
He has a very unique story that you can read below. He has touched so many lives - we would love to help make this dream a reality for him and his family.
Here is his story...
My mom was a bit superstitious while pregnant with me and very much wanted a girl. She wouldn’t even think of a boy name. I was to be April Michelle. When I was born, they needed a name. My dad was wearing the POW bracelet and suggested the name Neal Ward Carpenter.
As a child, the bracelet sat in a cabinet. I would look at it from time to time, but wasn’t allowed to wear it. When I was 12, I decided it should be mine. I’ve worn it every day for the last 31 years. It is inscribed with his name and rank at the time along with the day he was shot down. It was just 8 days before his 24th birthday.
On a trip to DC as a child, I went to the Vietnam Memorial Wall to make a rubbing of his name. I wondered if he would ever be found. I wondered if the insignia next to his name would ever change to signify they brought him home.
A few years ago, I learned of a website that had troves of information. I finally got to see a picture of Neal Ward. I learned that he went by Clint since he was a Junior and his dad went by Neal. I learned which aircraft he flew and about his posthumous promotion to Major. I even got to read a letter from his sister sharing her memories of her brother. The story grew.
Today, I learned his remains had been identified. I knew immediately I had to visit his gravesite to pay my respects to a man I never met, but who made such a difference in my life. To my surprise, I saw that he had not yet been buried. I reached out to his sister to find out if she would allow me to attend the memorial service being planned. She said I could and shared she was the only remaining member of his immediate family, but his Aggie brothers would be in attendance.
The funds will be used to buy airline tickets, hotel and rental car for him, his wife and 2 children to travel to the memorial service in Reno, Nevada on November 2nd.
Here is a link to a newspaper article on the POW