Neal T. Takala
Neal Takala was born in New York on 3/22/1914 and grew up in Teaneck. His parents, Hulda and Thomas, were immigrants from Finland. He was the second youngest of eight siblings; having seven sisters and an older bother
Neal’s nickname in Teaneck High School (Class of 1932) was “Sunny”. He played football, basketball and baseball in high school. He was also a member of the Varsity Club, Student Service (Chairman) and Commercial Club. Neal, in his high school yearbook, was associated with the expression “sporting blood”, meaning he was willing to take risks.
Neil also coached football at NYU and played semipro football with the Teaneck Red Devils. He played catcher for a number of the Bergen County semi-pro baseball teams. In addition, he worked as a referee in some high school football and basketball games and as an umpire in a number of baseball games.
Neil graduated from Montclair State Teachers College in 1938. While at college, he played fullback and was captain of the football team, co-captain of the wrestling team and catcher for the baseball team. He was also a member of the Senate, Men’s Discussion Society and the Psychology Club.
After graduation, he taught at Bloomfield High School.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corp in 1941 and eventually was sent to Australia. While training for combat, the fighter plane that Lt. Takala was flying in crashed near Eden, New South Wales on March 28,1942.
A memorial service for this courageous man was held in the Eden Catholic Church. He was buried in the US Cemetery at Rookwood in Sydney. After the war, his remains were sent back to the United States and buried at the Hackensack Cemetery in Hackensack New Jersey.
High School Yearbook
Te-Hi News (Teaneck High School Newspaper)
- Neal Thomas Takala - Overview
- 1930 United States Federal Census for Neal Takala
- 1940 United States Federal Census
- U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Record, 1938-1946
- Australia Cemetery Index, 1808-2007
- U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963
Eden Killer Whale Museum, Australia
Australia @ War Website
fold3.com (Historical Military Records)
National World War II Memorial, Wash., D.C. Website
Find A Grave Website