- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - At 66 years old, Richard Vanderkarr couldn’t help getting emotional when he received his high school diploma on Sept. 12.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to get it,” he told The Flint Journal ( https://bit.ly/1mslyna ). “It was a little emotional.”

Vanderkarr, of Clio, was awarded his diploma from the Carman-Ainsworth School District through Public Act 181 of 2001, which authorizes school districts to award high school diplomas to veterans who enlisted or were drafted while in high school and never graduated during WWII, the Korean conflict or Vietnam War.

Vanderkarr, who spent 28 years in the service, with 26 years in the reserves, was in Vietnam for 18 months after being drafted in the Army. He now serves as a member of the Burton Glen Charter Academy School Board.

He was 18 when he was drafted and had recently completed high school and began working at General Motors, although he didn’t receive his diploma, he said.

Although recently retired, he couldn’t help but be intrigued after seeing a report about veterans being awarded diplomas years after not graduating.

So, Vanderkarr went to the school’s administration on Sept. 8 and, sure enough, he fit the criteria. By the following Friday, he walked out of the door with his diploma, although he didn’t wear a cap and gown, Superintendent Steve Tunnicliff said.

“To see that this high school diploma was so meaningful to him gave me a lot of perspective,” Tunnicliff said. “It was very, very special for him and quite honestly, it was very special for me as well.”

Tunnicliff said his hope is that more veterans take advantage of the program in the area.

Vanderkarr had to laugh after receiving the diploma, saying that he received it the same year as his grandson from Flint Southwestern Academy.

“It’s just one of those coincidences,” he said.

___

Information from: The Flint Journal, https://www.mlive.com/flint


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