U.S. Navy Veteran Ronald McNeil Honored for Distinguished Military Service


Four branches of the Armed Services were represented recently when Hospice of the Western Reserve’s Warrensville team honored Korean War veteran Ronald McNeil with a Veteran’s Recognition Ceremony at his residence in the Grand Pavilion in Bedford.


Mr. McNeil’s son Keith, a U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran who served during the Persian Gulf War, was present to honor his father. HWR social worker Deborah Sassano also attended the ceremony. Conducting the ceremony was Peaceful & Proud volunteer Victor DeMarco, who served in Vietnam as a flight surgeon. Hospice nursing assistant Gene Gordon, a U.S. Army veteran, presented Mr. McNeil with an honored veterans pin and a certificate recognizing his service.


Staff Sergeant McNeil served in the U.S. Navy from 1948 through 1952, stationed aboard the USS Okanogan, an attack transport vessel. The ship’s primary mission was to carry and disembark a full battalion of troops with her own landing craft, and to evacuate troops, casualties and prisoners of war. As a specialist assigned to the Navy’s Telecommunications unit, Staff Sergeant McNeil was stationed two years in occupied Germany, serving the remainder of his time in Korea.

Staff Sergeant McNeil (bottom right corner) served aboard the USS Okanogan which rescued hundreds of Marines during the Korean War.

Personnel aboard the USS Okanogan played a pivotal role during the Chosin Reservoir Campaign, the most vicious battle of the Korean War. “They pulled 500 Marines to safety and retrieved 1,500 Marine casualties, transporting them to a place of safety,” son Keith said. “One of Marines rescued during the mission was ‘Chesty’ Puller, who became the most decorated Marine in U.S. history.”
Following his time in the service, Mr. McNeil worked at Ohio Bell. He was at the forefront of developing cellular technology and the cell phone.

Keith said his father’s military service and the many conversations he had with his two sons through the years inspired both brothers to enlist in the Marines. The family has a proud tradition of serving the country. Two cousins and an uncle are also veterans. 

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