By Jordan Puckett
Major Mike Torok, of Bethel, was honored by the Clermont County Commissioners May 29. The Board of County Commissioners presented Maj. Torok with a Certificate of Appreciation for his service and for his dedication to his country. Annie Wilkenson presented him with a Congressional Proclamation on behalf of Representative Brad Wenstrup.
Marcie Longenecker gave him a Certificate of Appreciation from Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and Tracy Braden from the Thank You Foundation also presented him with a certificate. Director of the Clermont County Veterans’ Service Commission, Howard Daugherty presented Maj. Torok with a challenge coin, as well as an invitation to the Veterans’ Service Commission.
This was Maj. Torok’s third time being honored by the Board of County Commissioners.
Maj. Torok served in the Army National Guard from 1981-88 as an infantry soldier. He returned to the army later as an ICU nurse. He served as a critical care nurse in Iraq from 2007-08 with the 325th Combat Support Hospital.
During his last two tours, 2009-10 in Iraq and 2012-13 in Afghanistan, Maj. Torok served as a Civil Affairs Officer. He helped the two countries to rebuild by working with the government to provide water, electricity, and education to war torn parts of the two countries. He also worked with local businesses to try to stimulate the economy.
“If people have jobs and a way to make a living and support a family, they are less likely to pick up a weapon and turn to violence,” Maj. Torok said.
Maj. Torok returned from his most recent deployment at the end of April this year.
“It’s somewhat bittersweet,” he said. “It’s great to be home with my family and friends, but you also make friends over there. There’s always something more to do and you want to be the one to do it.”
Maj. Torok is an employee at the VA Hospital in Cincinnati. He is going back to work this week for the first time after his most recent deployment.
“Right now I just plan to drop back into my normal routine,” he said.
Maj. Torok said he got a “tremendous amount” of support while overseas. Keith Maupin, Ron Shouse, and Bob Proud were among the people he named that sent him supplies.
“Bob (Proud) is tremendous. I’ve never met anyone like him before,” he said. “I’ve heard of people who are patriotic, but Bob’s different. I have a lot of respect for him.”
Shouse was the leader of Boy Scout Troop 196, of which Maj. Torok had once been a member. Maj. Torok linked Troop 196 to the Kasaba Boy Scout troop. Shouse sent the parts of 30 pinewood derby cars to the Afghan Boy Scouts. The boys were able to put together a track and experience a pinewood derby meet, using cars from Clermont County.
“I also want to thank my friend Paul Luck from McKinley Mortgage,” Maj. Torok said. “He sent a lot of stuff not only to me, but to the kids and the other troops as well.”
“I’ve been fortunate enough as a military officer to see a lot of the world. I feel very fortunate that I have a family with my wife Lisa, my daughters Hannah and Maria, who supported me. I could not have done it alone.”