Ranger Hall of Fame member Neal R. Gentry was born 5 May 1932 in Walker County, Texas. He entered military service on 19 September 1947 and began active duty with the 1st Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas in 1953.
While at Fort Benning, he felt the need to expand his military potential and volunteered for Ranger School. He was named the Honor Graduate of his Ranger Class in 1960. In 1961, he volunteered for Jump School and was also named the Honor Graduate of his Airborne class and was selected as a "Black Hat" to serve as an Instructor with the Jump School Cadre. After a tour with the 509th Parachute Infantry in Germany, he returned to Fort Benning and was assigned as 1st Sergeant of 44th Company in the Student Brigade. In 1967, he volunteered for duty in Vietnam and was assigned to 1st Battalion 501st Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne Division 1967-1968. After Vietnam he returned to Fort Benning and again served as a 1st Sergeant in the student brigade until November 1970. In Dec 1970, 1st Sergeant Gentry returned to Vietnam and was selected as 1st Sergeant of Lima Co Rangers 75th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division at Camp Eagle, Northern I Corps.
Completing his Ranger assignment in Vietnam, he returned to Fort Benning where he served on the Infantry Board and was promoted to Sergeant Major in 1973.
In 1974, when the 1st Ranger Battalion was forming, he was hand picked by LTC Kenneth Leuer to be the Battalion Command Sergeant Major. He was charged with setting the standards for the conduct, training and professionalism for Ranger units that continue to this day. He was also in charge of selecting the Ranger NCO cadre that formed the 1st Ranger Battalion. CSM Gentry wrote the Ranger Creed by which all Rangers have since strived to live by and is recited at every Ranger formation and must be memorized by every Ranger Student going through the course.
After his service in the 1st Ranger Battalion, Ranger Gentry served as the Post Command Sergeant Major at Fort Stewart, Georgia until 1976 when he was again transferred to Germany as 1st Brigade CSM of the 3rd Armored Division. He retired on 31 July 1978 at Fort Hood, Texas after more than 28 years of distinguished military service.
Ranger Gentry died on 28 July 1990 and was buried in Caldwell, Texas with full military honors on 31 July 1990.