Veteran of the Month: Johnny Rakipi

By Milan Eagle media

Johnny Rakipi was born November 7, 1971 in Dearborn, Michigan. He graduated from Fordson High School in 1989. During his senior year he and his best friend were always talking about what they wanted to do when they finished high school. At the time, Johnny wasn’t ready to go to college. They happened to attend Armed Forces Day at the high school one day and after listening to all the Branch Representatives the Marine recruiter struck a cord with both of them. After the event they spoke to the recruiter and 3 months later they entered the Marines.
Johnny’s father was an officer in the former Yugoslav before he came to the US in 1963. Johnny has 2 sisters and 1 brother, he’s the “baby of the family”. One sister lives in Dallas and the rest of the family lives in Michigan.
On October 15, 1989 Johnny left for Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California where his boot camp lasted for 12 weeks. The program was very challenging he said. After boot camp they were sent to Marine Combat training at Camp Pendleton, California, this training lasted about 5-6 weeks. After MCT Johnny was assigned to his new school, which was also at Camp Pendleton. His Military Occuptional Speciality (MOS) was 1833 Amphibious Assault Crewman or Amtracker. This program lasted about 3-4 months and after it completed he left California.
Next Johnny was assigned to his permanent duty station at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In November of 1990 they were given orders to report to Saudi Arabia and fight in the Liberation of Kuwait during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. His unit was part of a large mechanized force attached to Army Tank and Marine Helicopter Units. Johnny says, “this period of my life will forever remain unforgettable”.
After the War, they returned back to the May of 1991. Life went on for a couple of more years in the Marines and in September of 1993 Johnny returned home to Michigan. While in the Marines he was attached to 2nd Marine Division 2nd Battallion, Bravo 1st Company.
He got married and begin to raise a family of 3 children. For about 5 years, after the Marines, he worked for the State of Michigan. During this time Johnny received his Associates Degree in Business from Henry Ford Community College. In January of 1999 Johnny purchased the Milan Coney Island on Dexter St. In 2000, about 9 months after he bought the restaurant he moved to Milan.
Referring to his military life Johnny said, “it was an amazing experience and I made brothers for life. The things you do in the military you don’t have a chance to do any other place in life”. Ask if he had advice for people considering joining the military he said, “Go in with open eyes, the world has changed…”
In addition to the Milan Coney Island he most recently started a real estate business named Maple Street Properties. Johnny also is a member of the American Legion post in Milan and Foundation 14, they are committed to supporting our military veterans and their passion for riding. On October 19 Johnny sponsored Dine to Donate at his restaurant and donated 10% of the days receipts to the Milan Area Firefighters Assoc.
Johnny says, “I have 3 amazing children, Adam, Rina and Erita. I consider myself a family man and my children are my greatest asset. I love living and serving the people in the community of Milan. Semper Fi!”

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