86-Year-Old Receives High School Diploma

WWII forced him to drop out of high school.

By Kim Baldonado
|  Tuesday, Jun 9, 2009  |  Updated 8:21 AM CDT
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WWII Vet Graduates

Henry Jimenez gets a graduation hug.

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WWII Vet Graduates

One thing was missing from a WWII vets life -- a diploma.
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Proving it's never too late to make up for lost time, 86-year-old Henry Jimenez finally received his high school diploma. 

"My eyes got a little damp," he said.  "It's something I've been craving for 63 years."  

Why did it take so long?

Jimenez was in high school during the Great Depression and had to drop out to go to work to help support his family. 

"When I dropped out of school, I went to a training school sponsored by the governement to become a welder," said Jimenez. 

It's a skill that earned him a job working on military ships, but that job ended in 1942 when he was drafted.

Stationed in England during the war, Jimenez worked on B-51's and still remembers the sound of an incoming bomb, saying  "When you heard a whistle sound, you better head for the dugouts because when they blow up, they blow up everything."    

When the war ended, Jimenez returned to Los Angeles, got married and raised a family of five. Despite being a high school dropout, all of his children and all of his grandchildren went on to graduate from college.  

On Friday, Jimenez and about 100 other veterans who never graduated from high school because of their military service were awarded diplomas as part of the Operation Recognition Veterans Diploma Project.  

Jimenez could not be more proud.

"It means a lot to me because all my kids have their diploma and I'm the only one who didn't," he said. "It makes me feel a lot better." 

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