Tulsa veteran finally gets high school diploma

Wednesday, May 15th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

An unexpected high school graduate took to the stage at a commencement in Tulsa this week.

Leading more than 200 seniors from East Central High School was a World War II veteran, once believed to be dead. News on Six reporter Jenni Monet says it's a hat Jackson Armstrong is getting used to. A graduation cap. "I was 7 days over 18 years old."

Ever since this World War II veteran suited up for combat 58 years ago. "It's exciting." Now he's suited up for a different reason. Something he says he's waited decades for. "I've looked forward to it, but I never did get around to getting my diploma."

Sharing the stage with educators and high school graduates for the first time in his life. "I'll be 77 June 18th." It's an award this vet almost didn't receive, with a life or death error in school records to blame. "They had articled that I was deceased. It's my pleasure as superintendent of schools to introduce the first diploma."

Proudly in cap and gown, he's now a soldier standing tall. "Mr. Jackson Armstrong, 58 years later. In recognition of his service to our country, Mr. Armstrong."

Armstrong is one of 92 World War II veterans awarded high school diplomas from Tulsa Public Schools. It's part of a state law enacted last year that recognizes veterans who served a minimum of 18 months during that war.

Armstrong's three children are also graduates of East Central High School.