JOHN A. REINERS
STAFF SERGEANT US ARMY
On his second tour in Iraq, Staff Sergeant John Reniers tried to turn down the Purple Heart. It would be his second, but in his mind,
he wasn't wounded enough to warrant the recognition. After a rocket-propelled grenade cause shrapnel wounds to his head and leg, Reniers
tried to hide the injuries so he wouldn't miss work the next day.
"That's John, " said his mother Ronna Jackson, "so humble and always
giving 110 percent."
But Reniers couldn't turn down his second Purple Heart. While Reniers was on a five person foot parrol in the
Kandahar Province of Afghanistan, a suicide bomber drove into the team and detonated a bomb, killing Reniers and two fellow soldiers.
It happened two months before Reniers was scheduled to return home from his third tour of duty.
The 24-year-old Army Ranger from Lake
Hamilton, Florida didn't think Ranger School was hard enough. "He'd smile and say, "is that all you got?" said Jerry Jackson, Reiners'
stepfather since he was six months old. His toughness earned him the nickname "Rambo" among his fellow soldiers.
in Junior ROTC at Haines City High School for four years, he graduated and joined the Army in July 2004 and later Army Rangers, choosing
to join what is cconsidered the most elite special operations force in the Army.
"He was always a soldier. It was his passion." Ronna
Jackson said. At age four, he was already dressed in camouflage, but as a soldier, his humility was apparent. He refused to wear his
uniform at airports or in public. "He didn't want to be treated dufferently or like a hero. He didn't have a ego. He just loved the
Army from day one." Ronna Jackson said.
As serious as Reiners was about the Army, friends and family knew him as a comic, with a love
of practical jokes. "He just always wanted to have fun, "Ronna Jackson said. "He made sure everyone had a good time."
He was also a
dedicated husband and father, leaving behind his wife of three years, Casey Barker Reniers, and a two-year-old son, Lex Allen. Well-loved
among the men of his unit, some even took out loans to travel across the world and attend his funeral at Northridge Church in Haines
For Ronna Jackson, her son's legacy is clear. "The hardest thing for any mother is rasing an American hero. None of us should
take our freedom for granted/"
But Reiners wouldn't care about his legacy, said Jackson. "He just wouldn't want us to forget the other
troops. He'd want us to remember them."
By Katherine Boyle
THE PRICE OF FREEDOM
FREEDOM ISN'T FREE
The hardest thing for any mother is
raising an American hero. None of us
should take our freedom for granted.
John with his wife Casey and son Lex