Neal Almgren was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, on 17 December 1915, son of A. Malcolm and Lucille Ruth Neal Almgren. He was graduated from Rochester (New Hampshire) High School in 1933; and attended Werntz Preparatory School and the University of New Hampshire briefly before entering the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from New Hampshire on 13 June 1935. As a Midshipman he was a member of the Plebe Crew and the Varsity Crew which won the Poughkeepsie Regatta in 1938, and played Battalion Football. He was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Science and commissioned Ensign in the US Navy on 1 June 1939, and by subsequent advancement attained the rank of Captain, to date from 1 July 1958.
After graduation from the Naval Academy in June 1939 he was assigned to USS Yorktown (CV-5) and served as a junior officer in Communications and Radio on board that carrier for a year. From July 1940 until August 1942 he was aboard USS Winslow (DD-359), serving first as Torpedo and Gunnery Officer, later as Engineering Officer. In October 1942 he joined USS Ringgold (DD-500) as Engineering Officer, and in September 1943 became Executive Officer of USS Longshaw (DD-559). Detached from the latter in June 1944, he spent several months in Naval Hospitals, and from October of that year until November 1945 was Operations Officer and Navigator of USS Vicksburg (CL-86).
In the summer of 1941, in the Winslow, he participated in North Atlantic convoy operations, and after the outbreak of the war that destroyer was assigned to South Atlantic patrol duty. In the Ringgold in 1942-1943 he took part in pre-invasion operations at Casablanca; in the Longshaw participated in Hollandia Campaign, Truk and other Pacific raids; and in the Vicksburg served as Navigator during the Iwo Jima and Okinawa Campaigns, operations by Fast Carrier Task Forces THIRTY-EIGHT and FIFTY-EIGHT, and in the occupation of Japan following the cessation of hostilities.
During the period January to June 1946 he was a student (Command and Staff course) at the Naval War College, Newport, RI, after which he had a tour of duty in the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Department, Washington, DC. There he served in the Advance Base Placement Section of Officer Detail. In July 1948 he assumed command of USS Doyle (DMS-34), remaining in that command until November 1949 while that minesweeper operated with the Pacific Fleet. He was at sea from January 1950 until July 1952, as a member of the Staff of Commander Destroyers, Atlantic Fleet (R&T Section), after which he returned to the Bureau of Naval Personnel to serve until October of that year as Assistant to the Commander Detail Officer.
He next served as Aide to Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, USN, attached to the Executive Office of the Secretary of the Navy, in the Navy Department, and in November 1954 was detached for duty in command of USS Stephen Potter (DD-538). Detached from that destroyer in August 1956, he next attended a course in petroleum logistics at the University of Pittsburgh.
After a year of practical training with the Sun Oil Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he reported in August 1958, as Commander Destroyer Division ONE HUNDRED FORTY-TWO. He headed the Mobilization and Reserve Plans Branch, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Department, from August 1959 until April 1961, when he assumed command of USS Shenandoah (AD-26). Detached from that destroyer tender in March 1962, he next served as Senior US Naval Advisor to the Argentine Naval War College, Buenos Aires. In January 1965 he became Commander Amphibious Squadron FOUR, and a year later was ordered to duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department.
Captain Almgren had the American Defense Service Medal with bronze "A"; the American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two stars; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with five operation stars; World war II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal, Asia Clasp; the National Defense Service Medal and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon.
A member of the Army and Navy Country Club, Washington, DC, Captain Almgren was also a member of the Naval Academy Alumni Association, Annapolis, Maryland.