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World War II veteran receives high school diploma after more than 70 years

Posted at 2:15 AM, May 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-28 02:15:09-04

KALKASKA, MI (WWTV/CNN) – A dream came true for an 89-year-old World War II veteran in Michigan: he received his high school diploma.

Milton Mockerman changed his birth certificate back in 1944, so he could join the Navy and fight in World War II.

"Everybody my age was engulfed in a war. It was a war to survive, and everybody that could was serving,” Mockerman said.

Even though Mockerman says he enjoyed his time in the Navy, it cost him his high school diploma.

"We created so much of a commotion that they decided they had to do something with us, so they said, ‘Well, we'll figure this out and have a special ceremony for you.’ Well, the school burned down with all the records,” he said.

So, Mockerman moved and started a family and a career in the railroad business, but more than 70 years later, something was still missing. He contacted Kalkaska High School again.

"Both my grandfathers fought in World War II, and they're both gone and have been gone for a while. So, it was very emotional for me as well and just wanting to make this happen for him,” said Mary Deb Rabourn, the high school principal’s secretary.

Saturday’s graduation was monumental for Mockerman.

"I don't know how you'd put it in words, but it does mean a lot to me,” he said.

His grandson, Aaron Mockerman, drove up from Indiana for the ceremony.                        

"We're all extremely proud of him. I mean, a lot of people didn't know about this until just a few years ago, and now… he's finishing it,” he said.

Rabourn says she’s pleased the high school was able to honor Mockerman with the diploma.

"This has meant so much to me to be a part of… and we've gotten so much out of it,” she said.

Copyright 2017 WWTV, Mockerman Family via CNN. All rights reserved.