Veteran Without Diploma
RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A U.S. Army veteran who didn’t graduate from high school will receive his diploma next week thanks to a Riverside County program that provides graduation certificates to former airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines who gave up school to serve their country.
The county Office of Education will conduct its 17th “Operation Recognition” ceremony Nov. 1, honoring Charles Johnson of Riverside, who applied to receive his certificate after learning about the program.
County Superintendent of Schools Edwin Gomez will personally award the diploma at the Office of Education Board Room in Riverside.
Johnson entered the U.S. Armed Forces toward the end of the Vietnam War, in 1975. He completed a three-year tour of duty, during which he served as a military policeman and performed other tasks. Among his medals was a presidential unit citation for service in the Republic of South Vietnam.
After leaving the Army, Johnson worked as a trucker and owned a petroleum delivery service, as well as worked in law enforcement, according to the Office of Education.
The septuagenarian has seven children, 16 grand kids and two great grandchildren.
Veterans of World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars qualify to receive certificates even though they never finished school.
Officials said 377 veterans have received diplomas under Operation Recognition since it was initiated in 2007. Some of the county residents have been over 90 years old.
Due to the coronavirus public health lockdown in 2020 and ongoing concerns in 2021, formal ceremonies were canceled, though people still applied and received certificates. In-person ceremonies resumed last November.
Operation Recognition is based on California Education Code 51440, which permits retroactive granting of graduation certificates to honorably discharged or retired veterans who served while the United States was on a war footing. All they have to do is sign up.
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