Heroes Among Us: Chuck Tonn
LEESBURG, Ga. (WALB) - Every month, WALB and Montlick and Associates join together to say thank you to a South Georgian who has served our country selflessly.
For this month’s “Heroes Among Us,” we honored Chuck Tonn.
“It just seemed like the best opportunity for me,” he said of his decision to join the U.S. Marine Corps in 1973.
His time in the military brought him all over the world, including California, Okinawa, Hong Kong and Singapore.
“I was in the infantry, mostly training for combat missions,” Tonn said. “It was tough. It was tough at times.”
In 1990 and 1991, he was a first sergeant serving in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
“Even though everybody calls it a three-day war, it was still tough,” he said. “But, we didn’t lose anything and we accomplished the mission.”
For this Marine, that involved exposing himself to hostile gunfire multiple times.
“One of our missions was to clear the trenches,” Tonn said. “During that, we had lost communication with the farthest left platoon.”
So, according to the Commanding General of the USMC at the time, he moved 500 meters toward that platoon to re-establish that communication.
“At the time, I didn’t think it was much,” Tonn said.
However, that is not how his fellow Marines saw it.
“One of my platoon sergeants came up to me later and said, ‘First sergeant, it was just like ‘Apocalypse Now.’ There were mortars going off around you, and you were up running around directing people and everything.’ And I just looked at him and I said, ‘and you let me do that?’” he said, insisting that instinct and training kicked in to keep others safe. “The guys on the frontlines are awful young. They’re some mother’s son and I’m charged with keeping them safe, and that’s what I did.”
That wasn’t the end of Tonn’s military career.
“I just kept re-enlisting and kept re-enlisting. Before you knew it, it was over,” he said.
He spent 30 years as a Marine, learning and growing as a leader, before retiring in 2003.
“I’m not the only one. There are plenty of folks out here that have done 30 years, you know,” he said.
Now, pictures, memories and a Navy commendation medal are left to remind him of his “courage, initiative and selfless devotion to duty.”
If you know a current military member or veteran you want to nominate for “Heroes Among Us,” click here.
Copyright 2021 WALB. All rights reserved.