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Veteran to receive diploma 61 years after leaving Bonneville High

By Stephanie Hale-Lopez
Published On: Apr 23 2013 07:44:06 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 24 2013 11:18:42 AM CDT

The 2013 senior class at Bonneville High School has a late addition to its roster of graduates next month.

IONA, Idaho -

The 2013 senior class at Bonneville High School has a late addition to its roster of graduates next month. Kenneth Thomas, 79, will wear his cap and gown and receive his high school diploma as well.

Thomas said he thought leaving school in 1952 to enlist in the Marines cost him his high school diploma, but after doing some research, he found out he may have actually been a high school graduate all along.

Thomas said it was a snow day when he left his senior year at Bonneville High School and enlisted in the Marines -- Jan. 15, 1952, to be exact.

"On Jan. 28 I was sworn in and sent to San Diego," said Thomas.

From there, Thomas fought in the Korean War, earned his GED, married and had seven kids.

"Dorine got talking to me -- she's my baby daughter -- she asked me what my biggest regret was," said Thomas. "I told her one of them was not graduating from high school."

Thomas' daughter contacted Principal John Pymm at Bonneville High. Together, they found out Thomas had actually met all of the requirements to graduate while working on his GED during his tour.

"We had actually received that information from the armed services indicating as much," said Pymm. "So there in our archives was the good news that he was actually a high school graduate."

For Thomas, getting that high school diploma marks the end of more than six decades of regret.

"If my example would just touch one or two kids and make them stay in school, it would be worth it," said Thomas.

Thomas has a granddaughter who will be graduating in May, too.

She goes to Madison High School, but Thomas said the family is planning a big dinner to celebrate both of their accomplishments.

Thomas will walk across the stage to receive his diploma May 25 at Thunder Stadium.

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