PFC John J. Tofil
77th Division, 305th Infantry, 2nd Platoon, Company L
Wounded: 17, Dec., 1944; Died: 19, Dec., 1944
Leyte Island, Philippines
-- Gertrude (Tofil) Wentsler --
Strong -- Good Natured -- Intelligent -- Caring Son/Brother/Husband/Father/
Buddy. Snippets of other peoples' memories are what I use to form an image
of my father, John Jacob Tofil. He saw me once before being shipped to the
Pacific region, and I have a card he sent from Hawaii for my first birthday.
I never knew him, and, yet, I know him. His story has been repeated thousands
of times. The son of immigrants, he grew up in a loving family with his three
brothers and two sisters. A hard worker in the steel mills, he had secured a
better job around the time he married Irene Glass. Monica was born in 1942,
and I came along in 1943. By then, he was already in training.
He was a BAR man. Veterans have told me that BAR men were strong.
His unit landed on Guam, and fought under difficult conditions (weather,
terrain, enemy, inadequate supplies). The next stop was Leyte. Landing
on the west side of the island, where enemy reinforcements had appeared,
the unit headed in the direction of the Ormoc Valley. My father's
buddy, Silas Mozingo, a scout, was about 15 ft. away when he saw the
mortar shell hit.
Another promising life came to an end, but not before having a
positive impact on others. I recently met Si, his buddy, for the first
time. He didn't want to talk of the horrors of war, and apologized for
not remembering much to tell me. Nevertheless, he spoke volumes when he
talked about my father's good nature, practical jokes they played,
fruitcakes they shared. When he was done, he shared some pictures he
still had of Dad.
We were fortunate that our mother eventually married a wonderful man
who taught us to always show honor and respect for our natural father.
This tribute is for my father, John Tofil, and an expression of thanks
to everyone who brought him to life for his daughters.