Dr. John H. Neiler (Major General Retired), age 89, of Oak Ridge died Sunday, Sept. 16, at his home.
He was born December 21, 1922, in Mt. Oliver, Pa., the son of Clarence and Florence Kintz Neiler.
Dr. Neiler received his bachelor’s degree in physics and electrical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.
He received his pre-commission training with the CMTC and Army Extension Courses during the period of 1937 to 1940. He was commissioned upon entering active duty in January 1943.
After completion of several schools, he was assigned to the 517th Parachute Infantry, where a succession of duties included platoon leader, company executive office, Battalion S-2, and Regimental S-2. The latter duty was performed during campaigns in Southern France, the Rhineland, and the Ardennes when the 517th was operating as an independent combat team.
Following a tour of duty with the 505th P.I.R. 82nd Ban. Div., he was released from active duty in August 1946. He holds the Silver Star, Bronze Star with Cluster, and the Order of the Purple Heart.
Dr. Neiler’s Reserve assignments included S-2, 396 Infantry Regiment; instructor in radiological defense, 2201st Research and Development Training Unit; instructor, C&GS Special Associate Course, 2nd Army; instructor in radiation physics, 3161st Research and Development Unit; instructor, C&GS, 3143 ARSU, Knoxville USAR School; (Mob Des) physicist, OSWD, US CONARC; (Mob Des) deputy commander, U.S. Army Nuclear Defense Laboratory; director, USAR Nuclear Science Seminar, 3252 Research and Development Unit and Commanding Officer, 304th Mob. Des. Det. (DA-OCRD) with mobilization designation as deputy director-test operations, Nuclear Effects Laboratory, Aberdeen Army Research.
He served as an instructor and graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh and received master’s and doctorate degrees, completing this work with the aid of an Atomic Energy Commission pre-doctoral fellowship.
Before joining ORTEC, which he helped found, Dr. Neiler was active for nine years in nuclear physics research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he was a group leader in the Physics Division. His principal fields of investigation have been in neutron physics, including studies of neutron total and capture cross sections in the keV energy range and the energy correlations of fragments from neutron induced fission. He has specialized in the application of scintillation counters, semiconductor counters, and ultra-fast techniques for nuclear spectrometry.
His publications includes 17 papers in nuclear physics measurements and techniques and chapters in two important books on nuclear techniques. During the last two years of his service at ORNL, he was a member of the group which organized and directed the early activities of Oak Ridge Technical Enterprises, (later ORTEC Inc., a subsidiary of EG&G.).
In 1962, Dr. Neiler joined ORTEC, where, as technical director, he was responsible for the technical aspects of all operations of the corporation, which is engaged in the development, fabrication, and marketing of research equipment, primarily for nuclear physics applications, but also for such diverse activities as X-ray spectrometry and biochemistry research.
Concurrently with his work at ORNL and ORTEC, he was a lecturer in the University of Tennessee graduate program at Oak Ridge, teaching courses in nuclear physics and experimental atomic and nuclear physics.
Dr. Neiler was a member of the American Physical Society, American Association of Physics Teachers, Research Society of American, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Pi Sigma, and Sigma Xi. His civic activities have been concentrated on the problems of civil defense.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Eileen Morgan Neiler; son, Eric Neiler and wife Alice; daughters, Morgen Biehler and husband Arthur, and Lise Neiler and friend Lance Dunaway; grandchildren, Otto Neiler, Keegan Pavlovic and wife Alice, Alicia Dittmer and husband James; and great-grandchildren, Quincy Pavlovic and Rebecca Dittmer.
The family will receive friends on Thursday, Sept. 20, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Weatherford Mortuary. An online guest book can be signed at www.weatherfordmortuary.com.