Veteran, 83, Receives High School Diploma After 65 Years

San Diego native left school to join Air Force without precious achievement

After 65 years, an 83-year-old veteran was able to check one very important achievement off his bucket list: obtaining a high school diploma.

You see, Jack Griffin Billings attended high school in San Diego from 1949 to 1951. But instead of finishing out his senior year, he joined the Air Force, leaving the school and his classmates behind to start a military career.

But recently, the San Diego native who now lives in Alabama sent Herbert Hoover High School an unusual request.

The email explained how he'd passed a GED Test in the military, but never received a diploma.

“I know this is purely a sentimental request, but I’d appreciate any help from any source,” the emailed plea read.

It took a lot of phone calls and emails to not only verify transcripts and records, but to get the school district to sign off.

"They get lost, maybe they're ruined in a fire or a flood, something of that sorts,” said Jeremy Martin, vice president of the high school. “So the district has a policy that they don't really do this because they'd get inundated with requests for reprints."

But the San Diego Unified School District ultimately got it done.

Last week, Billings' diploma arrived on his front porch in Alabama.

He said receiving it was especially important for his family.

"I grew up in orphans home, all us kids, I was the only one that was ever going to finish high school, because we all grew up in foster homes,” he said. “They never got their high school diploma, I was going to be the first evidently I was."

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