Army puts Soldier’s life in ‘check’
Dec 01, 2008
BY Capt. Chris Demo

CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Maintenance technicians are often unsung heroes as they work behind the scenes to keep the U.S. Army mission capable.

Sgt. Neal Neputo, a tech at Taji’s Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems Launch and Recovery Site, is one of those heroes; his quiet, unassuming yet professional demeanor help him blend in, although his work often stands out.

Soon after Neputo arrived in the United States, he enlisted in the Army and attended training at Fort Knox, Ky., and advanced individual training at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md. He didn’t stay in the United States for long as his first duty station was with the 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, at Camp Gerry Owen, Korea.

It was during his second tour in Korea in 2004 that he began to develop a knack for chess. His skills earned him an invitation to try out for the All Army Chess Team. He slugged it out with 15 other chess players from across the Army to earn a spot on the six-man team. That particular team went on to compete in the Intra Service Chess Tournament, and Neputo helped his team place second.

“Chess requires patience, which is a virtue I’m still trying to master,” he said. “To be considered one of the best in the Army is quite an honor.”

He continues to develop his passion for chess throughout this deployment. In March, he entered and won a tournament featuring six other chess players from across Camp Taji. He still plays a good deal over the internet and said he plans to compete once again for a spot on the All Army Chess Team shortly after he redeploys.

Here is the full story.

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