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Army Spc. Randy L.J. Neff Jr.

Died July 22, 2009 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

22, of Blackfoot, Idaho; assigned to the 4th Engineer Battalion, Fort Carson, Colo.; died July 22 in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

Teacher says Neff was easygoing teen

The Associated Press

Randy Neff had an ability to put the people around him at ease and make his comrades laugh until their sides ached.

“He would flash his trademark grin, and everyone around him would feel better,” Capt. David Cuthbertson said.

Neff, 22, of Blackfoot, Idaho, died July 22 when a bomb exploded near his convoy. He was based in Fort Carson, Colo.

The bomb also killed Sgt. Joshua Rimer. Both Neff and Rimer were combat engineers who helped clear roadside bombs.

“They chose the only job in the Army that starts with the word ‘combat,’ ” said Lt. Col. Craig Simonsgaard.

Neff graduated from Blackfoot High School in 2006. Shop teacher Peter Golinveaux said Neff was laid back in high school but appeared to change after enlisting, and the military helped him overcome hardships he faced growing up.

“He talked to my son a couple of days before he left and said he was excited about going to Afghanistan and serving his time,” Golinveaux said.

Neff is survived by his wife, Madelyn. The couple lived in Colorado Springs, Colo., before Neff was deployed to Afghanistan.

“He was a strong-hearted kid; he’d be the first one up ready to go,” said Neff’s friend, Spc. Steven Speilbauer.

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