WHITE CITY, Kansas (STPNS) -- Having a diploma from White City High School had been a long time dream for a man who had quit school as a 15 year old sophomore to join the Navy during World War II. Although he received his GED while serving aboard a Navy cruiser, a diploma from his own high school was something he had always wanted. That dream came true for Ramon Vasques at a party celebrating his 80th birthday on December 23, 2006.

Ramon's children Cari Vaeth, Tom Smith, Marilyn Vasques and David Vasques, who hosted the party, had contacted the USD #481 (White City-Hope) Board of Education office and worked with Barb Stroda and the board of education to give their dad that long awaited diploma. "Barb Stroda was instrumental in getting the proper approvals and getting the project completed in time for the party," said Marilyn. "During the birthday celebration, we presented our dad with the diploma and he was very excited to hold his long awaited diploma in his hands."

Ramon Vasques, one of six children of John and Severina Vasques, grew up in White City, attending the local school until 1942 when as a 15 year old sophomore he felt the need to serve his country. He dropped out of school to join the Navy and continued his Navy career for 30 years, working his way from Seaman First Class to Lt. Commander. His service included World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. During that time, he received a variety of honors and medals.

He served aboard many notable naval vessels including the U.S.S. Midway CVA 41, U.S.S. Kearsarge CVA 33, U.S.S. Oriskany CVA 34, U.S.S. Oakland, CL 95, U.S.S. Coral Sea CVA 43, U.S.S. Monroe DE 422, U.S.S. Graffis AF 29 and the U.S.S. Enterprise CVN 65. His service took him all over the world including Europe, Australia and the Orient.

Ramon had gotten his GED while serving aboard the Navy cruiser, the U.S.S. Oakland in 1949 and after he retired from the Navy, he received a B.S. in Electronics and graduated with honors from San Jose City College in California. His daughter, Marilyn, said, "Even with these credentials, he regretted never getting his high school diploma from White City High School." Knowing how important that diploma was to their dad, his children set forth to make his dream come true as a special surprise for his 80th birthday.

Ramon has been added to the list of White City High School graduates, joining his siblings Mabel (c/41), Ellen (c/53), Mary Lou (c/55) and Jerry Joe (c/60) as WCHS Alumni.