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    Friday, April 19, 2024

    Dillon honored for helping military retirees, families

    Captain Kenneth M. Curtin Jr., the commanding officer of the Naval Submarine Base presents retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Paul F. Dillon with a certificate of appreciation for his leadership of the Retired Activities Office during a ceremony on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024 at the Groton Townhouse Restaurant. (Kimberly Drelich/The Day)
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    Groton ― Retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Paul F. Dillon, who recently turned over leadership of the Retired Activities Office at the Naval Submarine Base, is leaving a legacy behind him.

    That was the message shared by Captain Kenneth M. Curtin Jr., the commanding officer of the base, at a surprise celebration Wednesday at the Groton Townhouse Restaurant to honor Dillon with the Navy Civilian Service Commendation Medal and a Naval Submarine Base New London certificate of appreciation.

    “I just can’t say enough words about what he does, how he cares for other people,” Curtin told the room of Navy personnel, veterans’ service representatives and volunteers with the Retired Activities Office.

    Dillon volunteered for 25 years, including about a decade as director, with the Retired Activities Office, which helps military retirees, from all services and their families.

    “He trained countless volunteers in the Retired Activities Office and consistently went ‘above and beyond’ providing a wide variety of support for approximately 200 family members, widows and veterans in crisis annually,” according to the certificate for the commendation medal.

    Dillon started an annual retiree appreciation day to celebrate retirees and their families and to share information about benefits.

    Dillon “amassed invaluable information for any situation that veterans may encounter, significantly improving local and national support,” the certificate said.

    Dillon, a Blue Water Navy Vietnam veteran, is a member of the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame.

    Dillon’s 26-year active duty naval career included assignments and service in Asia, Europe, and the United States. He served on the cruisers USS Providence and USS Oklahoma City off the coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War and responded to numerous situations such as the USS Pueblo incident and the North Vietnamese launch of the Tet Offensive.

    Dillon, a radioman, served as base communication officer at the submarine base before retiring in 1980. He then worked at Sonalysts and then Millstone Nuclear Power Station where he managed telecommunications.

    A Gales Ferry resident, he is married with three adult sons ― two who are retired U.S. Marine Corps colonels and one who is a finance director for a Rhode Island company ― six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

    “I’m really humbled to receive this award and recognition,” Dillon said, adding he enjoys helping retirees and particularly spouses of deceased retirees. While he stepped away as director, he said he will continue to help retirees and their families.

    He served on the Veterans Advisory Council for U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, just finished a tour of the Secretary of the Navy's Retiree Council and is on the board of directors of the Navy Safe Harbor Foundation.

    Dillon said Blue Water Navy Veterans who had been exposed to Agent Orange, such as himself, had been denied benefits, so he worked with Courtney’s staff and thanked Courtney for pushing for 2019 legislation so Blue Water Navy Veterans exposed to Agent Orange are now recognized and receive benefits.

    Manuel F. Meneses, veterans’ service representative from Courtney’s office, presented Dillon with a Congressional Record statement that the congressman will read on the floor to honor Dillon.

    Phil DeRose, a retired Navy commander and the new director of the Retirement Activities Office, said Dillon “has the greatest patience in the world” and has trained volunteers so they can then help retirees, their widows and families.

    Local retirees and surviving spouses who need assistance can call (860) 694-3280 or (860) 694-3284.

    k.drelich@theday.com

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