Originally Published: September 5, 2012 9:50 p.m.
Our local hero/warrior, Major John Reyna Tapia, A.U.S. (Retired) PhD, 90, of Prescott, Ariz., died Aug. 28, 2012, from a cardiac arrest. He was born in Ajo, Ariz.
Tapia served in WWII and held the rank of SSgt. infantry rifleman in Korean as a 2nd Lieutenant Platoon leader of the 70th Tank Battalion Company. Tapia was highly decorated: three Bronze Stars, seven Purple Hearts plus 20 medals and five neck medallions. After retiring from the military in 1965 as a major, the warrior, teacher, writer and poet worked as a professor in several colleges and universities in five states. Tapia graduated from West Virginia State College with a Bachelor of Arts; Juris Doctor, Blackstone School of Law; Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy from University of Utah. He was awarded the Order of Don Quixote by Sigma Delta Pi (the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society) for "Outstanding Achievement in Teaching Excellence and Hispanic Scholarship."
Major Tapia was a great Southern Baptist speaker with the highs and the lows keeping you riveted to your seat. He served as the Chairman of the Republican Party; he was commissioned an Honorable Kentucky Colonel by Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher, and was inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame class of 2005. The local Military Order of the Purple Heart 608 meritorious voted to name the chapter in his honor nine years ago "Major. John R. Tapia PhD." He was currently active and volunteered in the Military Order of the Purple Heart 608, American Legion, Disable American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars, and volunteered at the Bob Stump VA Medical Center in Prescott. Tapia was very compassionate, genuine, sincere, and kind, always giving thank you gifts, flowers, hugs, and cards. He was sincerely grateful for the help he was given from his contemporaries along his journey.
Tapia was very fond of children and made it a point to always have a gift on hand to give a child. He prepared and gave away 70 Collector's Twenty-Five Cent Coin Albums to children.
Services will be Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012, at the Bob Stump VA Medical Center Chapel, 500 N. Highway 89, Prescott, Ariz. Visitation will be 12:45 p.m., service at 1:30 p.m., Honor Guard Presentation of Flag and 21-Gun Salute at 2:30 p.m., reception (VA Theater) following at 3 p.m. Full ground burial at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. He will be in the good company of Audie Murphy, Ira Hayes, George S. Patton IV, John Basilone MOH, Gregory "Pappy" Boyington MOH.
Arrangements by Hampton Funeral Home. A big thank you for all your help: Dan Tillman AL#6 Honor Guard, Brenda Autery, VA Medical Center, American Legion Riders, Korean War Veterans, Marine Corps League, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Prescott High School Junior ROTC.
Information provided by Alfonso Santillan Jr.