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Dover schools honor three branch veteran

Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Leo Tos is made an honorary graduate of the Caesar Rodney School District during a Veterans Day celebration Nov. 9, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base Middle School, Dover Air Force Base, Del. Tos never attended his high school graduation because he was drafted into the U.S. Navy a month before the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Leo Tos is made an honorary graduate of the Caesar Rodney School District during a Veterans Day celebration Nov. 9, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base Middle School, Dover Air Force Base, Del. Tos never attended his high school graduation because he was drafted into the U.S. Navy a month before the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Leo Tos speaks to a crowd of students, parents and faculty during a Veterans Day celebration Nov. 9, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base Middle School, Dover Air Force Base, Del. Tos served 22 years of honorable military service in three different branches, spanning three wars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Leo Tos speaks to a crowd of students, parents and faculty during a Veterans Day celebration Nov. 9, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base Middle School, Dover Air Force Base, Del. Tos served 22 years of honorable military service in three different branches, spanning three wars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Diane Walls, George Welch Elementary School choir director, leads the choir in the singing of “The U.S. Air Force” song at a Veterans Day celebration Nov. 9, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base Middle School, Dover Air Force Base, Del. The choir performed songs in honor of each of the five military branches and the veterans in attendance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Diane Walls, George Welch Elementary School choir director, leads the choir in the singing of “The U.S. Air Force” song at a Veterans Day celebration Nov. 9, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base Middle School, Dover Air Force Base, Del. The choir performed songs in honor of each of the five military branches and the veterans in attendance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Laura Fenush, 7th grader and Patriot’s Pen youth essay finalist speaks at a Veterans Day celebration Nov. 9, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base Middle School, Dover Air Force Base, Del. Patriot’s Pen is a youth essay contest for students sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Laura Fenush, 7th grader and Patriot’s Pen youth essay finalist speaks at a Veterans Day celebration Nov. 9, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base Middle School, Dover Air Force Base, Del. Patriot’s Pen is a youth essay contest for students sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Students of George Welch Elementary School put origami hearts into a basket during a Veterans Day celebration Nov. 9, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base Middle School, Dover Air Force Base, Del. The celebration also included a guest speaker and performances by the school band and choir. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Students of George Welch Elementary School put origami hearts into a basket during a Veterans Day celebration Nov. 9, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base Middle School, Dover Air Force Base, Del. The celebration also included a guest speaker and performances by the school band and choir. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Dover Air Force Base, Del. -- Students, parents and faculty of George Welch Elementary School and Dover Air Force Base Middle School gathered to honor the men and women of the armed forces during their annual Veterans Day celebration Nov. 9, 2018.

The top five finalists of Patriot’s Pen, an annual youth essay contest for students of grades 6th-8th, got to read their essays during the ceremony. To honor each of the military branches and the veterans in attendance, the Welch Elementary School choir performed “Semper Paratus,” “The Army Goes Rolling Along,” “Anchors Aweigh,” the “Marines’ Hymn,” and “The U.S. Air Force” song.

This year’s guest speaker was retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Leo Tos. Tos was drafted into the U.S. Navy on May 13, 1943. He served honorably as an aviation ordnance technician during World War II and was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1946 as a petty officer first class. He returned to military service in 1948, enlisting in the U.S. Army as a private with the military occupational specialty of tank driver. Tos would go on to reach the rank of Staff Sergeant before joining the U.S. Air Force in 1950. In 1967, after 22 years of honorable military service in three different branches, spanning three wars, Leo Tos retired as a Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force.

The Tos family has a special connection with the base and the school. Margaret Tos, Leo’s wife, served as a nurse in the U.S. Army and was a nurse at Welch Elementary School for 17 years. During his speech, Leo Tos mentioned that despite all his years of military service and his travels around the world, he never attended his high school graduation because he was drafted a month before the ceremony.

“I did not have the opportunity to graduate from high school ... Uncle Sam wanted me first,” said Leo Tos.

Upon hearing this, the principals and staff quickly worked behind the scenes to gather a cap, gown and tassel. The music teacher queued up “Pomp and Circumstance” for an impromptu ceremony and Leo Tos was made an honorary graduate of the Caesar Rodney School District.

When asked about the importance of Veterans day, Jason Payne, Welch Elementary School principal, said, “As children of parents who serve in the armed forces ... to understand the importance of Veterans Day is critical for them to understand how large of a job their parents actually perform for our country.”