Story by James Harless on 08/27/2019The United States Navy has a long tradition enlisting some of the most gifted and dedicated men and women the United States has to offer. This proud naval tradition is one that Petty Officer First Class Andrew Tonski knows all too well. Tonski was born Sept, 8 1992, in New Haven, Conn. into a naval family found himself being just the newest member in his family to partake in this naval tradition when he enlisted in the Navy in the summer of 2012.
Prior to enlisting in the Navy, Tonski taking was enrolled at Rhode Island College, with the goal of obtaining his bachelor's degree and eventually applying for Naval Officer Candidate School upon graduation. However, life had other plans for Tonski.
Following the completion of Tonski's second year of college, he was no longer financially able to pursue his academic endeavors. Instead of making summer plans with his classmates or seeking temporary summer employment, Tonski found himself at the Naval Recruiting Station in Providence, R.I. Knowing returning to school in the fall was no longer a viable option, Tonski wasted no time making the decision to follow his family's legacy and arrived at boot camp June 6, 2012.
Tonski chose to enlist in the Navy due to his family's rich naval history. His grandfather James Meunier began the family's naval tradition by dedicating more than 20 years of service as a Gunners Mate before retiring as a Senior Chief Petty Officer. Tonski proudly acknowledged in addition to his grandfather, his father Brian Tonski and Uncle Darrell Meunier retired from the United States Navy as well, while noting his mother is also a proud Navy veteran.
"It really gives you a sense of direction and purpose coming from a family with so much naval history; knowing that you come from a family who has dedicated their lives to something bigger than themselves really leaves an impression on you," Tonski said.
Being exposed to the Navy lifestyle from an early age was both challenging and exciting for Tonski who had to move each time his father was transferred and watch his family members deploy often.
However, his father's deployments came with an upside for Tonski; the homecomings. Tonski vividly recalls his fondest memories of his father's time in the Navy were the homecomings from deployment.
"I remember going to see him as they pulled into port, the piers were nicely decorated and sailors were everywhere looking for their families; the excitement I felt when we finally spotted dad was unlike any other feeling," Tonski said.
As Tonski recalled his father's homecomings he so fondly remembered, he stated he always wondered what it was like for all those sailors as they pulled into their home port.
On November 14, 2014, Tonski was finally provided with the answer he had been looking for when he found himself stationed aboard the USS George H. W. Bush as it pulled back into port following a nine month deployment supporting Operations Active Endeavor, Inherent Resolve and Enduring Freedom.
"Manning the rails as we pulled into Naval Station Norfolk, provided me the opportunity to finally feel what dad must have been feeling each time they returned home," Tonski said. "Homecoming felt amazing."
Tonski reported to the USS George H. W. Bush on October 5, 2012, as an E-3 Logistics Specialist after successfully completing his training at the Naval Technical Training Center in Meridian, Miss.
The Logistics Support rating was created in 2009 by the Navy when they decided to merge the Storekeeper and Postal Clerk ratings.
With his family's support and guidance Tonski was able to examine all of his options and ultimately chose the Logistics Specialist Rating because it was the most in-line with his academic goals and would provide him an opportunity to travel the world to capitalize on the education and training resources that would be made available to him.
"Having pursued a Bachelor's of Arts degree in Business Administration prior to my enlistment, the description of the LS duties seemed most applicable to my field of study," Tonski said.
After more than seven years as a logistics specialist, his decision has proven to not only be the best fit for Tonski professionally, it's proven to be more challenging and personally rewarding than Tonski could've imagined.
"Having the opportunity to support our mission on a daily basis is hands down the most rewarding aspect of being a Logistics Mate," Tonski said.
"Supply operations can often times be a thankless job when it comes to supporting customers. It can be very difficult to fully grasp the logistical requirements for their portion of mission support, but knowing that our supply operations lead to sustained combat operations or maintenance periods is very rewarding."
While assigned to the USS George H. W. Bush, Tonski worked primarily in Stock Control and worked financials while acting as was the RSUPPLY Functional Area Supervisor. Additionally, he was the Assistant Leading Petty Officer for the ship's Quality Assurance division, and beach detachment prior to his transfer to the Defense Logistics Agency Maritime Pearl Harbor.
Tonski has been assigned to DLA Maritime Pearl Harbor for more than two years, where he's been able to gain a whole new perspective and appreciation for the urgency of need for material support.
"Our operations here in Pearl Harbor are in direct support of shipyard maintenance operations, and every material requirement is urgent and expedited for our customer," Tonski said.
"Whereas on the shipyes, urgent requirements occur quite oftenbut we also processed any requisitions for routine maintenance and systems support."
While assigned to DLA Maritime Pearl Harbor, Tonski took advantage of his command's support and used tuition assistance almost exclusively to obtain his Bachelor of Arts in Transportation and Logistics Management in the spring of 2018 from American Military University.
Fortunately for Tonski, he was able to fully use the tuition assistance program, and with the exception of a few classes, achieved his academic goal that was once financially unattainable.
Tonski is grateful for having the opportunity to be assigned to DLA Land and Maritime believing his assignment to DLA Maritime Pearl Harbor has directly contributed to his recent selection to Naval OCS.
"The leadership here in Pearl Harbor has prepared me for commission by affording me the opportunity to network with senior supply corps officers here on the island," Tonski said.
"Additionally, this command has provided me the flexibility in my work schedule to meet all the requirements that went into building the OCS application, and for that, I'm truly grateful."
Tonski has requested to depart for OCS in September, but has yet to receive official orders detailing his official check in date to OCS.
"I'll hate to see him leave here but would love to have him report to my next job as an Ensign," said DLA Maritime Pearl Harbor Officer in Charge, Navy Cmdr. Bruce Reilly.
Tonski knows OCS will be extremely demanding on him both mentally and physically, and will test his "honor, courage and commitment to live up to the highest naval standards and values."
"It's such an honor and privilege to have just been selected for OCS, I'm truly honored by my selection; I really don't want to look too far past preparing for OCS," Tonski said.
"If I'm fortunate enough to successfully complete OCS and upon my commissioning, I'd like to focus on learning my role as a supply officer.
Then, when I'm ready, apply for independent duty to serve as a department head at an operational assignment where I can lead a team of enlisted supply professionals. If I'm fortunate enough I'd like to one day achieve the rank of Captain."
Tonski added that in addition to his professional goals, he has not lost sight of his personal goals either. He plans to continue his education at American Military University to obtain a master's degree in Organizational Leadership. He'd like to eventually start a family, become a homeowner and travel across Europe, and perhaps have a child carry on their rich naval tradition.