79-Year-Old Vietnam Vet to Graduate 6 Decades After Leaving School

Graduation Cap And Diploma On Table With Books
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A 79-year-old Vietnam War veteran from Ohio is finally receiving his high school diploma decades after leaving school.

WBNS reported Urvin Hartsock, 79, of Johnstown, Ohio, left high school in 1961 to take a job at a local steel plant where he worked for a year before being laid off. His next move was joining the U.S. Army.

“At that time I was young,” Hartsock told the outlet. “[I] thought I was smarter than the teachers that was teaching me. When I got in the service I figured out I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was.”

After serving three years in Korea during the Vietnam war, he came back to Ohio – now with a family of his own, per WBNS.

By all indications, Hartsock was a staple of his community.

The Columbus Dispatch reported Hartsock participated in his America Legion post’s “Pancake Day” in 2016 and told the outlet he had been responsible for mixing the batter before the post switched to an electric drill.

“I burned up a hand-mixer last year,” he said.

That same year, as the Dispatch noted, he helped the post hold a class to teach participants how to respond to both manmade and natural disasters.

“You more or less have to stay calm (in a disaster),” he told the outlet. “You have to keep your head about yourself and don’t act like a bull in a China shop. You have to study situations.”

However, until this year, he never realized his father’s dream for him: earning a high school diploma, per WBNS.

“Well, I let him down. I didn’t get it,” he told the outlet.

However, Dr. Phillip Wagner, superintendent of the Johnstown-Monroe School District, learned about Hartsock’s situation and saw a way to remedy it, per WBNS.

Citing a district policy allowing Ohio residents who left school for work or to join the military to graduate, Wagner was able to arrange for Hartsock to receive his diploma, per WBNS.

While Hartsock admits he had a lot to learn when he first left school, he now says he is happy to see his father’s dream come true at long last. 

“At least I’ve honored my dad’s wishes,” he told the outlet.


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