John F. Toth was born in Allentown Pennsylvania. In 1949, after graduating high school, he enlisted in the Army, doing his basic training in the Heavy Mortar Company at Fort Lewis Washington. Toth was due for discharge in August 1950 but when the Korean War started in June 1950, President Truman ordered all enlistments be extended. He was deployed to Korea, a member of the 2nd Infantry Division, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, D company, Private 1st Class.
On Thanksgiving night 1950, Toth was captured by the Chinese at Kunu-ri. He escaped one night in December, running through the snow without any shoes. After re-joining his company, they were ambushed at Pyongyang — suffering heavy losses — machine gunned and mortared from the hills, where he was wounded.
Returning to civilian life, John married Dorothy Ann Bobal, went back to school on the G.I. bill, while raising four children. Starting in the mail room at Western Electric he worked his way up the corporate ladder. His career spanned 30 years with the Bell System telecommunications company, retiring in 1989 while working as a respected liaison to the Federal Government. He never spoke much of his experiences during the Korean War, but found great friendship, community and purpose in the military organizations he later joined.
Toth's family donated his regimental and division insignia pins for inclusion in the metal that was cast into The Honor Bell.