73-year-old veteran graduates high school - WNEM TV 5

73-year-old veteran graduates high school

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Tommy Battles said he needs his diploma so he can apply for better jobs. Tommy Battles said he needs his diploma so he can apply for better jobs.

A former student of Guntersville High School graduated at a commencement ceremony Thursday – at the tender age of 73.

Tommy Battles stopped going to school and entered the military, sending money regularly to help his parents. He never finished his schooling.

He got a chance to meet with his fellow graduates and had a luncheon with them before rehearsal Thursday.

Thanks to a special program for vets like Tommy called Operation Recognition (PDF), he is receiving an honorary diploma. People who left school for military service during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam conflict are eligible for an automatic diploma.

55 years since leaving, Battles said he wanted to get his diploma because he was having a hard time getting a job, and hopes this serves as an incentive for all young people to get theirs.

"A lot of kids nowadays think it doesn't mean anything, but when they try to get a job it will mean a whole lot," Battles said.

Battles walked to the ceremony in full regalia with his fellow classmates Thursday evening, and walked away a short time later with that long-awaited diploma firmly in hand.

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