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Capt. Neal G.  Bundo

Capt. Neal G. Bundo

Sep 13, 1946 - Jan 15, 2022

Capt. Neal G. Bundo - Obituary


bituary of Capt. Neal G. Bundo September 13, 1946 – January 15, 2022 Beloved husband, father, stepfather, brother, uncle, cousin, and Navy man and patriot to the core, Captain Neal George Bundo, aged 75 of Lothian, Maryland, made his final "diver leaving the surface" at 2350 EST on January 15, 2022. For the past several years, Neal fiercely fought cancer and lupus with the hard-headed verve and determination that he was so well-known for and a bravery and positivity that inspired all who witnessed it. Neal was adamant he would be in the 3% that survived his type of cancer, and, to the surprise of no one who knew him well, Neal got his way. He did not die of cancer or lupus, but rather an unrelated medical condition. As his wife, Judy, had predicted all along, he chose his time, announcing to her and hospice that he was “going to the afterlife now” and doing just that shortly thereafter. We imagine he is hanging out in heaven’s pub, telling tales to a gathering crowd, and enjoying an Irish or two. Born in Chicago and raised in Michigan, Neal was remarkable, complex, and wonderful in so many ways. He was unabashedly himself– at all times, under all circumstances. Neal was an incredibly intelligent man who knew his mind. And made sure everyone else knew it as well. When he had an opinion, he believed he knew best. He had no qualms telling you why you were wrong and why he was right. He thought and acted independently. He didn’t toe the line, follow blindly, or succumb to pressure. As a dear friend and mentee often said, “Neal was tougher than John Wayne’s boots.” Yet he could change his opinions as facts and circumstances evolved sufficiently to persuade him. To say he was strong-willed and strong-minded is an understatement, but his intelligence and interest in learning fostered growth. As much as he may have wanted it to, Neal’s strong personality could not obscure that he was fundamentally kind and generous. His love for and pride in his family and friends ran deep. His son Ryan was “a constant source of joy, pride, and inspiration to me, my most important legacy to the world…” Judy - his “wonderful wife and best friend, … the source of my greatest happiness.” Neal showed his love in the quiet, solid ways that count the most. He was unerringly committed to ferociously protecting and advocating for those he cared about. He supported his family in their hardest times and in their accomplishments. He was present and willing to actively help others. From mentoring others to promptly agreeing to share his home with his in-laws for the last years of their lives (willingly giving up unfettered access to his downstairs pub!), Neal was someone you could rely upon in the most important ways. A dedicated military man, Neal was called to a lifetime of service, both in active duty and as a reservist. He was what those in the service call a “Mustang” – one of the rare enlisted soldiers who rise through the ranks to become an accomplished, high level officer. On July 31, 1964, when he was 17 and just recently graduated from high school, Neal enlisted. In doing so, he followed in the patriotic footsteps of his father (an Airborne Ranger in the U.S. Army and honored WWII veteran), uncle (a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, a B-26 Marauder pilot, and recipient of the Purple Heart in WWII), and grandfather (a captain in the Army, a Cavalry man, and veteran of WWI). Always independent, however, Neal chose the Goats over the Donkeys. (Go Navy! Beat Army!) During his 42 years of service in the Navy, Neal rose from an E-1 to an E-7 and then from an O-1 to O-6 (Captain). He thrived in the structure of the military and cherished the community he found there. In the early part of his career, he decided to become a Navy Diver. Despite an injury that required him to leave an elite program, his strong will and perseverance kept him striving for excellence and he achieved the Navy Diver status he was so proud of. He served as a Second Class Navy Diver until 1980. After his commissioning and the completion of his Diving Officer qualifications, he served as a Diving Officer between 1980 and 2006. During his tenure, he worked as an Ordnance Clearance Officer/EOD Assistant and, later, as the Commanding Officer of an EOD Unit. He was assigned Chief Inspector for the U.S. Navy Explosives Safety Inspections. He served as Commanding Officer of a MDSU 1 Det (Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1 Long Beach, California), and Commanding Officer of the Naval Ordnance Safety & Security Activity (NOSSA) in Indian Head, Maryland. NOSSA manages all aspects of the Department of the Navy Explosives Safety Program. Neal served 3 tours in the Vietnam War, for which he received the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Award, an honor awarded to those “accomplishing deeds of valor or displaying heroic conduct while fighting the enemy.” He also received the Vietnam Service Medal and the Vietnam Unit Citation Campaign Medal. In addition to Vietnam, he served in Operations NOBLE EAGLE, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. Among some of the many additional awards and commendations he received, Neal was awarded 2 Meritorious Service Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Good Conduct Medal, 2 Meritorious Unit Commendations, 4 Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Armed Forces Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, and the Vietnam Unit Citation Campaign Medal. In addition, Neal received the Special Operations Warfare insignia, Navy Diving Officer insignia, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Badge. One of his later career assignments – for which he received the Joint Service Achievement Medal - was in response to the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks on the United States. As one of his reporting senior officers noted, A most trusted and capable Watch Captain. After the Attack on the Pentagon on 11 September 2001, CDR Bundo immediately manned the National Military Command Center to replace his fallen shipmates. As the first to arrive, he reconstituted the watch and supervised all recovery efforts … … CMDR Bundo made a major contribution to the Global War on Terrorism…. Despite his many accomplishments, as Neal noted in his speech upon retiring as a Captain in the U.S. Navy, I like to think that my best Navy contribution is to its people - including, I hope, to some here today. It would please me greatly if I had even a small hand in your success. I am immeasurably proud to have served with all of you. As that comment reflects, at his core Neal was incredibly, beautifully humble. In his last days, he was deeply touched and truly surprised by the amount of people who reached out and shared their respect and love for him. Visibly moved, he told his son he was surprised and very grateful to learn that he had been able to touch so many lives, that his life and efforts had actually mattered to others. Also in his retirement speech, he noted, Admiral Cotton’s remarks were very generous, and I deeply appreciate them. Still, I have no doubt that the Navy will carry on quite well without my direct participation. After all, when you take your hand out of a bucket of water, the hole does not long remain. It is also good to put things into perspective. For those who loved Neal, the removal of his hand from the bucket will render that bucket less full, less vibrant. His life, his heart, his spirit – they deeply mattered, and the impact they made on the lives of those who knew him will create ripples that will continue to touch still more. Neal is survived by his wife Judy Carr, son Ryan Bundo (Kayla Bundo), stepchildren Heather Proudfoot (Cameron Proudfoot) and Jeremy Carr (Keli Carr), grandchildren Jordan Carr, Kaleb Carr, and John Proudfoot, brothers James Bundo (Sharon Bundo) and George Bundo, Jr., nieces Erin Pickering and Heather Finkle Delikat, nephew Ricardo J. Molinaro, and cousin Mike Bartos. Neal will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery at a date to be determined by Arlington. The funeral will be preceded (and followed – Neal loved a party!) by a celebration of life in the style of an Irish wake. Details will be provided to those wishing to attend. The family hopes all who loved and respected Neal will come and share stories and laughter over food and some “Irish”. Thank you for your outreach, love, and support during this difficult time. In Lieu of Flowers In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of Neal may be directed to support Dr. Evan Lipson’s research at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Please make checks payable to Johns Hopkins University with a memo indicating that this gift is “in memory of Neal Bundo, to Dr. Lipson’s research” to the: Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, 750 East Pratt Street, Suite 1700, Baltimore, MD 21202 or make a gift online.