Air Force veteran, 78, receives high school diploma

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published February 18, 2015

 Richard Armstrong, of Shelby Township, recently received his high school diploma from the Rochester Community Schools district, 60 years after leaving high school to serve in the United States Air Force.

Richard Armstrong, of Shelby Township, recently received his high school diploma from the Rochester Community Schools district, 60 years after leaving high school to serve in the United States Air Force.

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ROCHESTER — A 78-year-old Air Force veteran who left high school to fight for his country recently received his diploma from the Rochester Community Schools district.

“Sixty years ago, in 1954, an 11th-grader from Rochester High School left high school to serve in the United States Air Force during the Korean conflict,” said Lori Grein, RCS director of community relations. “Three years later, in 1957, he earned his general education development credential, otherwise known as the GED. However, he never received his diploma.”

On Feb. 9, Richard Armstrong, of Shelby Township, received his high school diploma during the RCS Board of Education meeting at the Rochester Community Schools Administration Building.

“We are extremely honored to be celebrating this occasion with Mr. Armstrong,” Rochester Community Schools Superintendent Robert Shaner said in a statement. “There is a definite pride and sense of accomplishment that comes with receiving a diploma.”

Armstrong, who was born and raised in Rochester, was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1958 and later worked as a carpenter, building homes.

He said he got the idea to look into the possibility of obtaining his high school diploma when he read a story about a man in a similar situation.

“When I read in the paper that another guy got his diploma, I said, ‘That’s the same story as me. I think I’ll call the school,’” he said in a statement.

Michigan Public Act 181 of 2001 authorizes school boards to award a high school diploma in certain circumstances to Michigan World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans.

Armstrong received his diploma in the same building he went to high school school in, which was formerly Rochester High School.

“I really appreciate it very much,” Armstrong said following the ceremony.

Armstrong has been married to his wife, Marlene, for 56 years. The couple has three children.

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