In 1961, 17-year-old Jimmie Turpin left the halls of Alvin High School as a junior and later went on to serve his country in Vietnam, before graduating. Now, 54 years later, Turpin finally has been awarded the diploma he missed out on all those years ago.
"Nobody could script this. This is my life. I'm now an official alum," Turpin told KHOU 11 News in Manvel, Texas. Alvin Independent School District awarded the war veteran a diploma Monday during an honorary ceremony, complete with a saber arch and even a letterman jacket.
Turpin, who is now retired, joked that he could go find a job now with his new credentials, his daughter, Angela Turpin, told KHOU 11 News. But what makes his graduation so special is that he'll walk across the stage at the formal commencement ceremony in June, on the same day as his granddaughter.
Many school districts have made it their policy to award diplomas to veterans who left their high schools to serve in wars. Veterans across the U.S., of all ages, have reported getting their diplomas decades later.
As for Turpin, he's just happy to be sharing the stage with the class of 2015. "I'll probably have to adopt the class of 2015," he says. "They're sharing their moment with me, and I'm an old man."
Clarification: Language has been amended to indicate that Turpin did not deploy immediately to Vietnam with the military upon leaving school in 1961.
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