The dinner is to benefit the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home and is sponsored by American Legion Post 81, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2598 and the Harry S. Truman Club. Tickets are available through Bradley County Veterans Services Office in the courthouse or by calling 423-728-7100.
Tuke is involved in working to improve the lives of veterans on more than one front. He chairs the Tennessee State Veterans Home Board and was recently appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to the Governor’s Council on Service Members, Veterans and Their Families. He also serves as president of the board of Operation Stand Down Nashville, a charitable organization that operates training programs to provide training and support for veterans as they work themselves off the streets and back into the community as responsible and contributing citizens.
Tuke served as an active duty Marine officer from June 1969 to July 1973. He was commissioned at the University of Virginia as a regular NROTC Marine Option officer and trained as an infantry and tank officer.
Upon receiving orders to Vietnam, Tuke volunteered for the Combined Action Forces, “a unique very successful creation of the Marine Corps.”
He was eventually given command of a Combined Action Company with six platoons, each consisting of one-third U.S. Marines and two-thirds South Vietnamese village militia.
After his company commander rotated home, Tuke took command as the only Marine officer, with a Vietnamese Army counterpart. Each platoon was commanded by a Marine staff sergeant or sergeant and a Vietnamese equivalent.
“We conducted counter-guerrilla operations in I Corps in the northern part of South Vietnam, ambushing and patrolling, principally at night,” he said. “We were among the last Marines in Vietnam.”
He was awarded a personal Cross of Gallantry with bronze star by the Vietnamese for his service in combat.
“We Marines valued our Navy corpsmen highly,” he said. “We had one in each platoon. Not only did they serve well in their assigned duties caring for the wounded combatants and hurt civilians, but my corpsmen were also proud of their proficiency with grenade launchers, which was not exactly in accordance with the Geneva Convention.”
He told the story of one encounter with a corpsman who assessed some chest surgery Tuke did with his K-Bar knife one night to remove a piece of hot shrapnel from the sternum of a young Vietnamese ally.
The corpsman asked sternly, “Who did this?”
“I did!” Tuke said.
“Hmmm, not bad,” the corpsman replied.
The young Vietnamese survived and was back in the field in a week or so.
After returning from overseas, Tuke served as a Marine watch officer at the National Security Agency and as a company commander of the Marine Fort McHenry Guard. After active service, he spent six years in the Marine Corps Reserve in Nashville.
As a civilian, Tuke is a partner in the law firm of Trauger & Tuke, a Primerus Law Firm, in Nashville and he is an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University School of Law, where he teaches Professional and Ethical Considerations in Corporate Practice.
He has been honored as a “Fellow” of both the Tennessee Bar Foundation and the Nashville Bar Foundation. He also is a past president and trustee of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. He is listed in Best Lawyers in America and Who’s Who in American Law. He also is listed among Super Lawyers of the Midsouth as a Tennessee corporate and business lawyer. In addition, the Nashville Post has listed him among Nashville leaders “in charge” in the category of Government/Politics.
Tuke graduated from the University of Virginia in 1969 and earned a juris doctorate from Vanderbilt University in 1976. He was admitted to the Tennessee Bar in 1976 and before the United States Supreme Court in 1986. He also is admitted to practice before the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Sixth and Federal Circuits, and before the United States Court of International Trade.
Simmons was the driving force behind the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home in Bradley County.
The memorial dinner is in honor of Bradley County native John H. Simmons. He attended Arnold School, graduated from Bradley High School and attended Tennessee Wesleyan College. After college, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving from 1966 to 1970.
He was assigned to Bethesda Naval Hospital and also trained with Marines in California before being deployed to Vietnam in 1969 and 1970 with the 1st Marine Division Combat Unit.
Simmons made advocating on behalf of veterans his sole purpose in life after retiring from Hardwick Clothes in 2001. He talked to people locally and made many trips to Nashville and Washington, D.C., in spite of being classified 100 percent disabled and in constant pain.