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Tobe Gentry's Story
George Tobe Gentry, known as Tobe, was born on January 6, 1928, in Maben, West Virginia, to Floyd and Bertha Gentry. He enlisted in the Army at age 18 because his father was a World War I Army Veteran and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor he had a strong desire to serve his country. "I was the smallest soldier in the company, weighing 127 pounds," Tobe reminisced about his time in basic training. Each soldier carried a horseshoe blanket roll and backpack with a mess kit, tent post and pegs and various other items inside. This was a heavy load, but while marching in from the firing range he said, "I felt my load lighten a bit as my field sergeant came up from behind and lifted up on my pack."
In 1946, Gentry joined the 25th Medical Battalion Company and was made Private 1st Class Utility Commander. He was sent to replace Sgt. Russo, a seasoned staff sergeant and combat veteran. When Russo met Gentry, "he cracked up and started laughing." He called in a Japanese American soldier and introduced Gentry as "the new boss," then they both started laughing. Russo said, "I must not have been very important to the battalion." Gentry said, "You don't know my qualifications." Russo replied, "No, but I know your rank!"
Gentry says lifelong lessons he took from the military taught him discipline, patriotism, and respect for everyone. One message he'd like to leave for future generations is, "Young people, serve your country."
Gentry served in command positions as a platoon sergeant, first sergeant, and senior drill sergeant. He recalls that at his initial training, "They gave me the biggest, meanest rifle I had ever seen. When I first fired [it], it was a kick like never before!" Gentry says he stood 5 feet 4 inches, only two inches taller than his weapon with the bayonet attached.