By Heide Brandes
OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) – An Oklahoma man who dropped out of high school to fight in World War Two will receive his diploma on Thursday, an accomplishment that took 72 years to complete.
Bill Larkin, 90, who left school during his senior year in 1943 and served with the U.S. Marines in Iwo Jima and elsewhere, will join the 2015 graduating class ceremonies at Skiatook High School on Thursday evening, officials from the school located north of Tulsa said.
Skiatook High invited the veteran to receive his honorary diploma as a way to recognize his service and inspire graduating seniors. When school officials discovered he only lacked one history credit to graduate, they decided his military service fulfilled that requirement.
“I do not know what I need a diploma now for, I am not looking for a job. I have done just fine without one,” Larkin told the Claremore Daily Progress newspaper.
Larkin spent three years overseas during World War Two. He returned home and married his high school sweetheart, Lois.
After the war, he worked as a truck driver and a pipeline construction supervisor, but never went back to finish the class he needed to earn the diploma.
“The Skiatook principal called and wanted me to come to graduation and said I would have a cap and gown, and they were giving me a diploma to honor me,” he told the newspaper.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Eric Walsh)