A 2002 graduate of Northwestern High School in West Salem, John M. Runkle, Jr. enlisted in the Army in 2006, and was eventually stationed in Korea with the 2D Infantry, 102D Military Intelligence Battalion, 2D Brigade Combat Team. While there, he decided he wanted to go to the United States Military Academy at West Point. However, he was first deployed to Iraq for 10 months before starting with the class of 2009. He graduated in the top 10 percent of his class.
Lt. Runkle served with the Pathfinders of the 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He earned his Ranger Tab before being deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. First Lieutenant John M. Runkle, age 27, was killed in Afghanistan on 26th of May, 2011, when his unit was struck by an improvised explosive device in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.
His awards and decorations include: Bronze Star; Purple Heart; Meritorious Service Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Military Achievement Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Afghan Campaign Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal; War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; War on Terrorism Service Medal; Korea Defense Service Medal; NATO Medal; Air Assault Badge; Parachutist Badge; Pathfinder Badge; Ranger Tab; Combat Infantryman Badge; German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge; and Ohio Military Medal of Distinction.