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Longtime Veterans Advocate Passes Away At 94

A genuine war hero championed by Shasta County veterans has passed away. Jack Tolbert was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He had just one month remaining in his tour of duty when his platoon was suddenly overrun by a wave of Chinese troops.  When a Chinese hand grenade was lobbed into the bunker in the midst of Tolbert and his platoon, it might have meant the death of the entire unit. That was not the case because Jack Tolbert was an exceptional man and that was the sort of moment that reveals a man’s true nature. With no time to think, Jack’s instinct was not to jump away from the blast. Jack’s concern was for the protection of the men he considered his brothers, so he threw himself on top of the grenade. The blast took both of his legs, but he was not dead. He used his remaining strength to crawl around in search of a radio so he could warn the commanders to the rear of the fight that the Chinese were coming. When they did come, Jack remained still and played possum. With his body torn apart, he must have looked like he was dead, but the Chinese bayoneted him anyway and cracked his head with the butts of their rifles. After 3 months in army hospitals, Jack finally went home. Following that incredible ordeal, Jack has led a spirited life of integrity, compassion, and positivity. Jack and his wife raised eight children, and he earned his livelihood with Jack’s Small Engine Repair in South Redding. Late in his life he counseled a number of young wounded veterans and has been a moving force behind countless veteran’s projects. Despite his obvious valor, Jack was never a recipient of a Medal of Honor, despite a campaign by fellow veterans that ended in 2009 with a denial by the secretary of the army, who deemed that the Distinguished Service Cross was adequate. Jack proved that the most meaningful honor he could receive was from the Redding community he served and loved for more than 50 years. That community now mourns the passing of a true American hero. Jack Tolbert died November First at the age of 94.