AUSTIN, Texas — On Friday, Austin ISD hosted a belated "graduation" ceremony for veterans who went to war instead of finishing high school.
Any veteran that served in a formally declared war was eligible to apply and be part of the ceremony. Those wars include World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian War, the Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan and any other war formally declared by the U.S. under the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
High school diplomas were awarded during the special graduation ceremony on Friday, Nov. 11. The ceremony was at McCallum High School.
Two veterans got their diplomas years after they left school to go to war.
Lance Cpl. Ricky Sauls left Austin High School to serve in the U.S. Marines. He served from 1973 to 1978, when he was honorably discharged.
"I have tried to go back to school but, each time I tried, something came up in the family," he said. "My mom got sick and I had to stop and take care of her. She passed, then I tried again at ACC and my dad – he's got dementia now. I'm happy to take care of him. And when I heard about this, I mean, I was just so grateful."
Sgt. William Nealy never got his diploma in 1989 because he left what is now Navarro Early College High School to serve as a cook in the Army. Nealy said he waited years for this day to come.
"Having this means more than you could ever dream of because, like, I always wanted to get my high school diploma, and for AISD to honor on Veterans Day – it means the whole world to me," Nealy said.
He served in the early 1990s and then re-enlisted after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. He retired in 2018.
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