Lakeland, FL, US
SSG, CO A, 1ST BN, 12TH INF REGT, FORT CARSON, CO
02/13/2010, ZHARI PROVINCE, Afghanistan
SSG John Allen Reiners graduated in 2004 from his local Haines City High School and was funeralized there.
“We are all here to pay tribute to a true American hero, SSG John Reiners. It all started here in the halls of Haines City High School,” explained JROTC Cadet 2LT Taryn Boyer, who conducted the ceremony.
Haines City High School is the place where his family is certain he will not be forgotten. At Haines City HS John’s family created The Heroes Corner which honors those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice through military service or who dedicated their lives to community service. The Heroes Corner includes an oak and a magnolia tree, as well as a bench. The oak tree was planted so that: “This area will be considered sacred ground in tribute to select Haines City High School alumni who distinguish themselves through service to their nation and community. The Magnolia tree will be planted to signify the lasting legacy of the sacrifice made by SSG Reiners. His memory will live on forever,” explained Cadet Boyer.
Cadet Boyer praised SSG Reiners’ leadership abilities and noted his outstanding contributions to the JROTC program. At school, SSG Reiners was a JROTC captain. His military service included 2 tours in Iraq. His 3rd tour took him to Afghanistan. He had completed training as an Army Ranger. Through her tears, Ronna Jackson, SSG Reiner’s mother, spoke of her son’s impact on the world.
“He always felt that what he did wasn’t heroic or amazing. It was just his job,” she added. “John had no idea the honor he carried, that he left a legacy for others to follow without realizing he was doing that.”
Speaking to the JROTC cadets, Ronna Jackson set the task to each cadet to carry her son’s legacy with them as they serve in the community, and beyond in military service.
“You can make a difference in the world. Seek integrity, honor and most of all commit with pride and loyalty in everything you do. When you do the best you can, you honor the deaths of many who sacrificed for you.”
“We rest easy knowing John’s memory will live forever,” Glennette Jackson, John’s sister added.
LT COL John Ingraham, retired, and Cadet CPL Randall Van Pernis played and sang Toby Keith’s “American Soldier” and Tim McGraw’s “If You’re Reading This.”
“When I think of John, one song always comes to mind — Toby Keith’s ‘American Soldier’ because this song is the epitome of who John was,” LT COL Ingraham explained. “He proudly put on that uniform every day, endured long field training exercises, and deployments to two major theaters of war. “He ultimately gave his life for his country and community.”
LT COL Ingraham said that John visited the Haines City HS whenever he was home on leave. “He is a role model (today) and he would be proud of that.”