Two war veterans on Saturday fulfilled a dream that had been decades in the making.
Both had to leave high school early to enter the military. One served in World War II and the other in the Korean War – but both walked across their high school stages to join the class of 2019.
Joe Perricone, 95, was a student at Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Florida, when he was drafted to serve in the US Army in World War II in 1943. He told CNN affiliate WFLA that he received his diploma, but never got to walk for graduation.
More than 70 years later, his grandson, Judge Thomas Palermo, worked with the school to arrange for his grandfather to walk with the class of 2019.
Perricone was honored for his service at the ceremony and was first across the stage.
Bill William Arnold Craddock
At 16, Bill William Arnold Craddock joined the Air Force and left Volunteer High School in Church Hill, Tennessee, without graduating. Craddock, who is 85, went to what was then Science Hill High School and would have graduated in 1953. Instead he served in the Korean War.
Craddock told CNN affiliate WJHL that he did complete his GED but never got to walk in a graduation. Now, 66 years later he has made that dream a reality.
“It means a lot to me… I’m tickled pink I went through this to get this,” Craddock told WJHL.
Craddock had some advice for the class of 2019 and those he would have walked with in 1953: “Study hard, be good, and learn all you can. Get the best education you can get.”