Marine Sgt. John K. Rankel
Died June 07, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
23, of Speedway, Ind.; assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, I MEF, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died June 7 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
(The following was taken from www.indystar.com of June 20, 2010) Friends and family remembered Sgt. John K. Rankel for his service, his tenacity, his faith -- and his smile.
More than 300 people gathered for the Marine's funeral Saturday in the Speedway High School gym.
"The world lost a warrior, a true hero," said fellow Marine and friend Matt Howard. "He loved being a Marine. He loved being a guardian for our nation. I'll sleep better tonight knowing we have an angel looking down on us from heaven."
Rankel, 23, died June 7 in Afghanistan, apparently from enemy fire. It was his
third tour of duty after serving twice in Iraq.
His survivors include his mother and stepfather, Trisha and Don Stockhoff; father and stepmother, Kevin and Kim Rankel; and brothers Tyler Rankel, who attends Center Grove Schools, and Nathan Stockhoff, who recently graduated and enlisted in the military.
Friends and relatives recalled how Rankel strived for excellence and pushed them to do the same.
"With 30 years' age difference, you'd think of the father as being the hero," said his dad, Kevin Rankel. "Not me. John Kenneth Rankel is and always will be my
Rankel, known as Johnny by his family and childhood friends, enlisted in the Marines after graduating from Speedway High School in 2005. He was most recently assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
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."
Two months after they started dating, Rankel sang Elvis Presley's "All Shook Up" to her during a karaoke party.
"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 Rnkel'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 ankel'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.
Rankel is the 30th Hoosier to die in Afghanistan. In his honor, flags were flown at half-staff Friday in Johnson County and Saturday in Marion County.
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."