Marine from Eaton Rapids Killed in Action

By: Beth Shayne
By: Beth Shayne

"He always had a smile for you, he always had time for you," Barbara Rogers says of her grandson Troy.

"He was famous for his bonfires, he was famous for his smiles," she says.

Many people who knew him describe him as a kid with a sneaky smile. "You just wondered what he was up to," says family friend Rick Smith.

He was well-liked in his years at Eaton Rapids High School, and outside school, he was passionate about the outdoors, 4-H, and the farm animals he showed competitively.

The uniform he wore proudly as part of a legacy--the new generation from a long line of soldiers in the family who fought in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

"This is our first not to come home," Rogers says. "I think Troy would want to be remembered that he did it for us."

While she remembers him, she cherishes an accidental memento. She wasn't home the last time her grandson called her just before he shipped off to the mideast. He left a voicemail, and now she can hear him say goodbye anytime she wants.

"That message is on my machine. That's priceless, right now," she says, with tears in her eyes.

His mother Annette Nealey declined to speak on camera, but spoke at length off camera about the boy she says he just wanted to do his job in Iraq. He was there just one month with the Lansing-based Charlie Company when his humvee was hit.

Nealey leaves behind his parents, his grandmother, a girlfriend, and two younger brothers. The middle brother Todd is in the Marine reserve.

Nealey's funeral is planned for November 11th at 1 pm at Eaton Rapids High School. His family plans to create a scholarship in his name for 4-H using his life insurance from the Marines.

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