Vernon Rockville, CT (CNN) — A World War II veteran waited more than 70 years to reach one of his goals: getting his high school diploma.
William Tobin, 91, walked across the stage during the emotional ceremony at the Rockville High School.
“Mr. Tobin came to us in January inquiring about any courses he would need to take to get his high school diploma,” Rockville High School Principal Andy Rockett said.
Tobin didn’t need to take any more classes. Rockett said given Tobin’s honorable service in World War II, under state statute, Tobin had earned his degree. All that was left was showing up for graduation day.
“Obviously he wanted it really badly,” Rockville High School graduate Jack Ramsdell said.
Tobin, who grew up in Manchester, but became an electrician and has lived in Vernon for years, was honored to start the Rockville ceremony.
“Mr. Tobin, perhaps you could stand again,” Rockett said, which was followed by applause.
Rockett told those in attendance about Tobin’s service in World War II.
“He shoveled machinery and spare parts to shore and wounded marines back,” Rockett said.
Rockett also shared what happened at rehearsal.
“During rehearsal today, he got a little out of line and got a detention,” Rockett said laughingly.
About an hour later, the moment Tobin had waited for, for decades came when his name was called.
“It’s very nice, very nice,” Tobin said.
Words were hard to come by for petty officer Tobin, but not as hard as the wait for his degree.
“I never thought I’d come back to high school,” Tobin said.
For veterans young and old who witnessed the ceremony, it was a powerful moment.
Tobin hasn’t sat still for many of his 91 years and little will change even with his latest honor. He loves flying planes and is looking forward to his next flight.
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