South West Region

Goodbye Gaz

A service of thanksgiving was held for the life of Warrant Officer Air Training Corps (ATC) Gary Tonks at the Parish Church of All Saints, Martock, on Monday 16 February 2015. RHQSW#DS~GaryTonks~ThanksgivingPhoto1#DaveRolfe16Feb15 Gary (known to many as Gaz), born 25 June 1958, passed away on 18 January 2015 following a protracted illness which was bravely borne. The service was attended by family, friends and colleagues. Group Captain Mike Remlinger, Regional Commandant South West, represented Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, Commandant Air Cadets. Also in attendance were Air Commodores Gordon Moulds and Ian Stewart, both former Commandants of the Air Cadet Organisation. Gary’s former Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Brian Wills-Pope said, “Gary will be greatly missed. He was a dedicated and professional senior non-commissioned officer who gave so much to the cadets and staff.” Following the service, family, friends and colleagues gathered at the Warrant Officers Mess at RNAS Yeovilton where many stories about his exploits were recounted. Gary joined 479 (Longbridge) Squadron as a Cadet in 1972. Like many teenagers he joined the ATC looking for adventure and a sense of direction. He was not to be disappointed. In 1984 he moved to Somerset and joined 1032 (Yeovil) Squadron where he became the Squadron Warrant Officer. Gary was employed locally, but was also a self-employed illustrator and undertook commissions for clubs, societies and businesses. A significant milestone in his career was achieved when he qualified as a Drill Instructor leading him to become the Wing Warrant Officer for Devon and Somerset Wing and also the South West Region Warrant Officer. Increasingly involved in high profile projects Gary took on the role as Commandant Air Cadets Warrant Officer (CACWO) in June 2012 whilst also working for the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) at the Wells Cathedral School. Amongst his many achievements Gary is credited with developing closer ties between the RAF and ATC Warrant Officer cadres, and he was instrumental in the re-introduction of the RAF Royal Coat of Arms badge for the Senior Regional and Corps Warrant Officers. During a ceremony held at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst he was presented with a certificate having qualified as a member of the City and Guilds Institute in Strategic Youth Management. In September 2014, Gary was awarded a Commandant Air Cadets Certificate of Meritorious Service. In his spare time he was a keen fisherman who liked nothing better than the challenge of landing a prize catch and spending time with friends on the river bank. His sense of humour was always on display and he was often the subject of self-deprecating humour when portraying himself in many of his “Gaz” cartoons for which he will be fondly remembered. Warrant Officer Gary Tonks MCGI was regarded as a consummate professional and superb example to all, dedicated and loyal in service, a guide, leader, mentor and friend to many. ENDS RHQSW#DS~GaryTonks~ThanksgivingPhoto2#DaveRolfe16Feb15                     Photo  – Route lining RHQSW#DS~GaryTonks~ThanksgivingPhoto3#DaveRolfe16Feb15                   Photo – Church service Article by Squadron Leader Dave Rolfe MCGI RAFVR(T), Media Communications Officer, Devon and Somerset Wing 07789 954708 (M)
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