Colonel Reitzell graduated from Northeast Louisiana University as a Distinguished Military Graduate in 1969 and was commissioned a 2Lt in the infantry. A quick assignment to the 82d Airborne was followed by Vietnam and a combat tour in the 4th Infantry Division as a rifle platoon leader. After being twice wounded he was reassigned in Vietnam to the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s Long Range Recon (Ranger/LRRP) Company.
Returning to the US he served in a variety of command and staff assignments, including Ranger instructor, Aide-de-Camp to MG George S. Patton, and was selected to teach at the US Air Force Academy. There he skippered the Air Force Parachute Team, “The Wings of Blue” to the collegiate National Championship in 1979.
A year in Korea as the operations officer of the US’s DMZ Brigade was followed by a move to Ft. Bragg, NC where John began a long classified assignment in the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). While in JSOC he was deployed on over 35 “real world” operations in support of the Nation’s counter-terrorism program. The invasion of Grenada, the hijack of TWA 847 to Beirut, the insurgencies in El Salvador and Nicaragua, and the seizing of the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro are examples of these missions. During the Achille Lauro incident he was part of a 6 man team chronicled in Tom Clancy’s book Shadow Warriors as “The Chase.”
During this tour, Col. Reitzell served as the Reagan Administration’s DOD lead for its classified crisis response team. This team led by a State Department official, a Deputy Director of Intelligence from the CIA, and then LTC Reitzell forward deployed to the Middle East in 1986.
Returning to command an Infantry battalion then attend the U.S. Army War College, John was picked to command the 509th Parachute Infantry, the dreaded OPFOR (opposing or “red force”) at the JRTC, the National Training Center for “light” forces. This was followed by assignment to MacDill AFB, Fl where John assumed duties as Chief of Current Operations US Special Operations Command.
Responsibility for the operations of over 5000 Special Forces, Navy Seals and other classified special operations forces around the world was rewarded by selection for Brigade Command in 1993, and Chief of Staff at the US Army’s Infantry School at Ft. Benning, GA in 1995. John retired as an Army Ranger, Master Parachutist with over 500 jumps, a Combat Infantryman’s Badge, 2 Legions of Merit, 4 Bronze stars with a “V” for Valor, the Purple Heart, 4 Air Medals, and numerous other commendations from multiple services and countries.
Mr. Reitzell then became the Director of Computer Sciences Corporation’s Modeling and Simulation Center of Excellence in Huntsville, AL. In 2003 he was inducted into the Madison County Hall of Heroes. In 2005, best selling novelist W.E.B. Griffin dedicated his newest series of books beginning with By Order of the President, and The Hostage to John.
John’s wife Glenda currently serves as treasurer of the Madison County GOP Executive Committee, and was recently appointed by Governor Bob Riley of Alabama to the National Space and Rocket Center Commission; son Michael is a lawyer in West Palm Beach, Florida, a husband and father, and daughter Robyn is Director of Pharmacy Operations for a Healthcare firm in Atlanta.