Happy Memorial Day.
Today, our family honors and salutes all of our nation’s fallen heroes on this Memorial Day. There are no words to describe the debt of gratitude we have for all those who have laid down their lives for our country and for every one of us – no matter our background, our politics, our race, or anything else. And we pray for their families and friends who lost somebody dear to them.
When you hear the word hero, think of Marine PFC John Lukac. Our family wanted to honor a local hero today so we looked up and read about John. Then, we visited his gravesite this morning to honor his life and his sacrifice at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City. While visiting John, we were extremely blessed to run into his parents. We were honored to meet them, and they gave us permission to share a few special photos and this story of their hero son.
John was born in Los Angeles but moved to Las Vegas with his parents at a young age, where he eventually graduated from Durango High School. The son of an immigrant who once served his native country of Czechoslovakia in uniform (which was then a Communist regime where soldiers had direct orders to shoot their own if they dare tried to escape to a freer world), John was a smart kid who dreamed of a day when he would be an agent in the CIA. He loved sports, but he was also an avid book reader. John was offered several scholarships and had a choice of four different universities that had accepted his application, but after the attacks on 9/11, he had a burning desire to serve.
Having fled their native land, his mom and dad would become American citizens in the 1980s – where they treasured the freedoms they found in this new land. They ended up in Las Vegas, both taking jobs on the Strip. Like any parents, they were nervous about John’s desire to serve our nation, wishing he would continue with his education. But John had other plans, and he convinced his parents that he was going to enlist in the Marines.
Upon his enlistment, John was assigned to the First Battalion, Third Marin Regiment, Third Marine Division. John was stationed in Hawaii as part of the Third Expeditionary Force. He eventually was deployed and was serving at a checkpoint in about the worst part of the world you could be in 2004 … just outside Fallujah in Iraq’s Anbar province. On October 30th that year, John was killed in action after a car bomb detonated next to him and his fellow marines. John was among nine killed and eight other Marines who were wounded in the blast. At that time, he would be the sixth service member with ties to Nevada to die in Operation Iraqi Freedom which was launched the previous year. John would be the first of those six to be buried here locally.
We are honored to visit John today, and to meet his loving parents. We are here to tell John’s story. We are here to share it with you and to honor John’s parents, Jan and Helena Lukac, along with his brother, Peter.
Thank you, Marine. May God continue to bless you, your family, your sacrifice, and their sacrifice.
And may God bless all those who have served and died in the defense and protection of our great nation.
The Rodimer Family