Friday was graduation day at Sperry High School. Five veterans who left high school before graduation, to serve in World War II, finally got their diplomas.
As the News on Six's Rick Wells shows us it was a graduation ceremony full of pride and patriotism. The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. America was at war In the Pacific and in Europe, thousands of young men rushed to enlist, many before they finished high school, among them Jack Basse and Ernie Bratten. Jack Basse: "I couldn't wait 'til I was 17, when I was 17 I was sworn in at the old post office in Tulsa, the engineer build or whatever, six days later I boarded a train and headed west to San Diego. Ernie Bratten enlisted too, he was only sixteen, and he lied about his age. "Yeah, there was a bunch of them, there used to be a group, after the war, formed a group of under-aged veterans, I never did join it but I heard about it."
They were in San Diego together for a while. And now back in high school, at a special assembly, to get their diplomas. The graduation ceremony was made possible in the last legislature, one of the measures passed permitted high school diplomas to be awarded to World War II vets who enlisted before they graduated. Ernie Bratten got his own diploma and those of his brothers Clarence, and Warren, another brother Gordon was killed in 1945. His diploma was accepted by his grandson Ron Teel, a grandson he never knew.
Jack Basse, was a little over whelmed by the ceremony and the reception from the students. "I hope all of our children, if nothing happens out of this today, I hope our children realize the cost of freedom."
His grandkids Amber who's a senior at OSU and 7-year-old Shawn think their Papaw is very cool.