SPEEDWAY, IN, US
U.S. Marine Corps
SGT, 3/1, RCT-7, 1ST MARDIV (FWD), I MEF (FWD) (PARENT CMD: 1ST MARDIV)
07/16/2010, DWYER MEDICAL TREATMENT FACILITY, AFGHANISTAN
Sergeant John K. Rankel was assigned with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California died June 7, 2010 at Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province. The twenty-three year old Marine was from Speedway, a suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana.
John was born July 28, 1986, in Anderson, Indiana and attended the Speedway schools during elementary then moved to the Center Grove area through his sophomore year. During high school, he enjoyed sports and lettered in football, basketball and baseball. In 2005, he graduated from Speedway High School and followed his passion and joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California.
During his first enlistment, he deployed twice to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He re-enlisted in 2009 and was re-deployed to Afghanistan in April. During his military career he was recognized for his dedication and hard work. He was also meritoriously promoted to Private First Class during boot camp and was promoted to Sergeant by the age of 23. John received multiple Combat Action Ribbons, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the Afghanistan and Iraq Campaign Medals, multiple Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, and the Global War on Terrorism and National Defense Service Medals. He had also received three individual Certificates of Commendation during his service in the Marine Corps.
John Rankel loved being a Marine. He loved being a guardian of his nation. He was his father’s hero. Johnny, to his family and childhood friends, was just a big kid loved and mentored by coaches and his friends’ parents. He was best friend to those who loved him beyond their comfort zones of life, sports and the depth of their, and his, Christianity.
Seven people spoke about Rankel during the service. His girlfriend, Lindsay Raikes, shared stories about his humor and reflected that she knew a side of Rankel that few others did. The two started dating after peer-editing essays about the traits of a perfect match in English at Speedway High School.
“He was my best friend, my love and my hero,” she said. “I challenged him and supported his dreams. He pushed me beyond my comfort zone.”
“He was just a big kid,” Raikes said. “He will still be John in heaven. He will love us there just as he did here on Earth.” Raikes’ father, Gary, and Speedway basketball coach Chuck Bennett were two of Rankel’s mentors.
Gary Raikes first met Rankel as a parent volunteer moving yard markers on the football sidelines. Their relationship grew as he and Lindsay dated, moving from topics such as a love for sports to deep discussions about Christianity.
Raikes admitted that he, like some of the Marine’s family members, questioned Rankel’s desire to join the military.
“I didn’t want my daughter to face the reality we’re facing today, but I supported his decision,” said Raikes, who asked the audience to recognize military personnel in attendance. The response was a standing ovation.
Addressing Rankel’s brothers, Raikes said: “John’s legacy is in your lives. You’ll grow up to lead men.”
Rankel attended Speedway elementary schools before moving to the Center Grove area, where he was a student through his sophomore year before returning to Speedway. Rankel played football, basketball and baseball and considered playing football at Franklin College.
After the funeral at Speedway High, Rankel was laid to rest in the Field of Valor at Crown Hill Cemetery, an area reserved for military veterans.
“John sacrificed his life for me and you, and he paid the highest price to ensure our freedom,” said the Rev. Danny Anderson, senior pastor of Emmanuel Church of Greenwood, who was Rankel’s youth minister. “We must sacrifice. Not by dying, but by living.