‘64 years late’
Navy vet receives honorary FDSH diploma
More than six decades after leaving school and enlisting in the U.S. Navy, Thomas Filloon received an honorary diploma from the Fort Dodge Community School District Board of Education on Monday night.
Filloon would have graduated with the Fort Dodge Senior High class of 1956, but instead decided he wanted to serve his country. He served three years stationed in Washington, D.C., at the Naval Photographic Interpretation Center — three years, three months and 16 days, to be exact.
“It’s what they called a ‘minority cruise,'” Filloon said. “You serve until you were 21 if you went in before you were 18.”
Following his enlistment in the Navy, Filloon earned his GED certificate through the military. Once he returned to Fort Dodge, he received another GED certificate through the state of Iowa in order to enroll at Iowa Central Community College.
When his military contract was up, Filloon moved back to Fort Dodge, where he got married and raised a family, working at a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service.
Filloon has also been involved in the community, counting absentee ballots for the county auditor and volunteering with the American Red Cross and other organizations.
“The first time I decided to volunteer and help other people was when I joined the service and ever since then I’ve always volunteered,” he said.
Even though it’s “64 years late,” Filloon said, he’s still very proud to receive this diploma.
“I honestly think this is a great program for those of us that chose to serve our country before finishing high school,” he said. “And there’s many of them that served and didn’t get the opportunity (to receive a diploma).”
School Board President Stu Cochrane addressed Filloon in front of the small audience that filled the school board room.
“As a board, we feel honored, Mr. Filloon, that you believe enough in the educational process that after having all you’ve done already for your country, you feel it’s important enough to come back and receive this honorary degree,” Cochrane said. “It’s a privilege for us to meet individuals like you and have the opportunity to recognize people like you that have served.”
Filloon still connects with his FDSH classmates regularly.
“It’s been 64 years since my class graduated and we meet once a month for coffee, so I can show this off and brag a little bit,” he said.