An 84-year-old Marine veteran received his high school diploma 66 years after joining the military to fight in the Korean War.
Paul Mackey initially left school to serve ten years as a Marine. He was supposed to be part of the Class of 1954 at Texas High School, but never got that chance due to the war.
“Surprised, very surprised after all these years,” Mackey told KSLA. “Very thankful and very proud.”
Texas’s education code allows school districts to award diplomas to honorably discharged veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War.
Mackey continued his military career when he joined the U.S. Army Reserves in the mid-1970s and served until 1996. He was one of the few Korean War veterans left by the time he retired from the reserves, according to the Texarkana, Texas, ISD.
Mackey’s wife, a retired teacher, inspired him to get his diploma.
Mackey hopes his diploma, which he sees as a symbol of accomplishment, inspires young people to take charge of their education.
“You kids out there that see this, be smart, go to school and stay in school,” Mackey said.
Mackey is not the first veteran who recently got his high school diploma years later after military service. In May, a 91-year-old veteran from Ohio received his high school diploma alongside his great-grandson.
A 95-year-old World War II veteran who went off to war instead of finishing high school finished his degree 74 years later, and World War II veteran Joe Perricone and Korean War veteran Bill William Arnold Craddock obtained their high school diplomas as part of the class of 2019.
What all these men have in common is that it is never too late to pursue your education.