Army Sgt. 1st Class Neil A. Prince, a 35-year-old Maryland native killed June 11 by a roadside bomb in Iraq, was not the kind of soldier to brag about his achievements.
Prince, a native of Jamaica who grew up in Baltimore, had no particular wish to go to Iraq, but he took the place of another soldier who had been hurt there without complaint, his sister said in an interview yesterday.
“My brother didn’t make a big deal out of things,” Shane Prince said. “He would say, ‘This is part of my job, this is what I do, this is what I have to do.’ ”
Prince, a field artillery tactical data systems specialist, had been serving in Korea but received orders to join the 2nd Battalion of the 17th Field Artillery Regiment in the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, a unit now stationed in Iraq, according to his sister and the Army’s public affairs office.
On June 11, he hitched a ride with Bravo Company, 224th Engineer Battalion. The unit was escorting a 25-vehicle supply convoy from Ramadi to nearby Habbaniya in Anbar province in western Iraq, along a road called Alternate Supply Route Long Island, Lt. Col. Greg Hapgood, a spokesman for the Iowa National Guard, said in an interview yesterday.
Near the town of Al Taqaddum, a roadside bomb exploded, halting the convoy but not hurting anyone. As the soldiers scanned the road, two other bombs went off.
The second explosion did no harm, but the third, a “very powerful” bomb, went off directly beneath Prince’s armored Humvee, instantly killing him and another soldier, Spec. Casey Byers, 22, of Schleswig, Iowa, Hapgood said.
The Prince family immigrated from Jamaica in 1980, settling in Baltimore in 1982. A small, shy boy, Prince grew more confident as he grew up, enjoying sports, particularly baseball, all of his life. His sister recalled that he would often play basketball with his fellow soldiers.
“He made friends easily,” his sister said. “All his men respected him and loved him.”
He enlisted in the Army after graduating from Baltimore City College in 1989. His parents were initially upset, his sister said, but they were supportive of his decision. He served in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. His sister, however, did not know if he had earned medals for bravery during his service; discussing that was not his style.
He met his wife, Suzette McLeod Prince, while she was working as an Army medic. They had been married almost 10 years and have a 4-year-old son, Jordan.
Yesterday, Suzette Prince was making memorial and funeral arrangements with her husband’s parents, who have since moved to Forest Hill in Harford County.
Prince also is survived by two older sisters, Ann-Marie Richards of Suffolk, Va., and Ava Prince of Queens, N.Y.; an older brother, Aldean Lindo of Jamaica; and his parents, Cecil and Retinella Prince.