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96-year-old WWII vet finally receives high school diploma after draft cut his senior year short

The 96-year-old World War II veteran finally got his high school diploma (complete with graduation cap and tassel), decades after his final year was cut short by the draft.

Arthur Masterson of Warwick, Rhode Island, was surprised when he received an official letter from his East Greenwich school as a Christmas present from his family. Reported by WJAR Sunday.

“On Thanksgiving Day, we were here going through some papers that he had and my son-in-law realized that he had dropped out of high school to join the military,” she said. Elaine Vespia told a local station.

Masterson was a few months away from graduation before we went to war. His grandfather served 11 months in the Navy during World War II and two years in the Army during the Korean War, the newspaper said.

Vespia wanted to do something special for her father, and asked Masterson if he would respect the time he spent fighting for his country while earning his degree. I decided to contact the superintendent of my high school's school district.

Arthur Masterson received his high school diploma decades after his final year was cut short by the World War II draft. wbaltv

She emailed East Greenwich Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Ricca, who was happy to work with her.

“As a director, even after digging and researching, my response is often no. It felt so good to be able to say yes,” Rick told WJAR.

On Christmas Day, the entire family gathered together to place a graduation cap on the veteran's head and present him with his official diploma.

“A lot of us were really in tears, but it was a really happy moment to be able to give it to him,” Vespia said.

Masterson was a few months away from graduation before we went to war. wbaltv
My grandfather served 11 months in the Navy during World War II and two years in the Army during the Korean War. wbaltv

Masterson could hardly believe it, according to the startling footage.

“A diploma after all these years?!” he said, before smiling and giving a thumbs up to his “graduation” photo.

According to the family, school officials also included 1945 school documents and school photos.

“I told the superintendent, 'You'll never know how much it means to me to be able to give this to my dad for Christmas,'” Vespia said.

Rick said he was honored to do so.

“That this is a small token that we can add in our gratitude for what he has done for our country and knowing that he has earned it in every sense of the word. I hope so,” he said.

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