95-year-old veteran receives high school diploma nearly 80 years after leaving school to join the Navy during World War II

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 5:18 PM CDT
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CHATOM, Ala. (WALA) - It’s a day that was several years in the making.

“Normally it takes somebody 18 years to get a diploma. It took you 95,” said Former Washington County Superintendent Tim Savage.

Clarence Carpenter was on his way to graduating from Millry High School when he decided to join the fight in World War II.

“I wanted to do my effort,” said Clarence Carpenter. “Do my small part.”

After talking to his friends who trained in other branches, Carpenter enlisted in the Navy in 1945 for a very important reason.

“They had to eat C-Rations, they didn’t have hot chow so I said well if I get in the Navy I’ll have hot chow three meals a day. I thought of that my eating part,” added Carpenter.

Carpenter served in the Navy through the rest of the war before being honorably discharged and eventually moving to Jackson to start a family. But he still never received his diploma until his loved ones stepped in.

“He’s never led us down a path where we couldn’t succeed”

“I just want to tell you how much I love you”

Now almost 80 years later, surrounded by his friends and family carpenter can officially call himself a high school graduate.

“Thank you for your service and we all love and appreciate you.”

“I thank God for letting me still be here to accept this piece of paper. They say it ain’t nothing but a piece of paper but it means a whole lot to me,” said Carpenter.

What means even more is being able to share this moment with those who care about him the most.

“It’s just overwhelming,” said Carpenter. It’s hard to explain really. It’s just a joyful time to have them over here.”

As for what’s next for the new graduate, Carpenter says he plans to keep working in his wood working shop in Jackson. He also plays the fiddle with his band so you may see him playing at a church or event in the area.

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