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Veterans Who Missed Graduations to Go to War, Finally Get Diplomas after 70 Years

Two veterans who missed their respective high school graduations to go to war eventually got their diplomas after 70 years – and were able to walk proudly on stage, as a special part of Batch 2019!

Joe Perricone, of Tampa, Florida, was a student at Hillsborough High School in 1943 when he got drafted to serve in World War II.

My draft board said, ‘You go serve your country and be a big boy,’” Perricone recalled.

Left with no choice, Perricone went to war and was not able to graduate alongside his friends; though he was able to complete high school but was just not able to march along with his batch.

Photo credit: Twitter / @HaleyHinds 

Meanwhile, Bill William Arnold Craddock, of Church Hill, Tennessee, had dropped out on purpose from the Science Hill High School (now called Volunteer High School) when he was 16 years old. He later joined the Air Force and served during the Korean War.

Craddock was later able to earn his GED but didn’t get a chance to walk on stage to graduate with his friends, just like Perricone.

Judge Thomas Palermo, Perricone’s grandson, recently arranged for his grandfather to finally attend the graduation ceremony he missed all those decades ago! Donning a cap and a toga, Perricone finally got to receive his high school diploma through Hillsborough High School’s principal Gary Brady.

Needless to say, he was grinning from ear to ear! It was only a ceremonial moment, of course, but finally being able to ‘graduate’ on stage was a special moment for the war veteran. Everyone gave him a standing ovation.

Miles away, Craddock was also exciting with the prospect of finally going on his ‘high school graduation’.

I’m tickled pink that I went through this to get this. Seeing all these people, and they have made me feel good,” he told reporters.

I would tell that class to study hard and be good. Learn all they can and get the best education they can get.

Photo credit: WJHL

The two war veterans went viral for their graduation photos, with many netizens feeling happy that they are finally able to attend this special ‘milestone’ in their lives – even if it is 70 years late!

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