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Kansas Marine Corps Veteran Graduates High School 78 Years Later


In the sea of blue caps and gowns at Halstead High School’s graduation in Halstead, Kansas, Wilbur Nachtigal blended in with the youthful graduates — until he rolled his electric scooter across the stage to accept his diploma. 

At 95-years-old, Nachtigal graduated from high school, as reported by KAKE. 

“I’m probably the only 95-year-old graduate they’ve had,” Nachtigal said.

At 17, the Marine Corps veteran left school to serve in World War II. During his service, Nachtigal obtained the rank of private first class. Now 78 years after earning his eagle globe and anchor, Nachtigal has earned his high school degree. 

“Over 400 of these diplomas were issued today,” Nachtigal said. “I’m proud that I got one. Reluctant to do it, but I finally went ahead with it.”

Just a few weeks before the ceremony, Nachtigal reached out to the school’s principal, Chad Baalman, as reported by KSN. After consulting with the school board, Baalman said there was no doubt Halstead High School wanted to award Nachtigal — who would have been a graduate in the class of 1946 — his long-awaited diploma.

RELATED: First-Gen Uni Graduate Thanks Immigrant Parents for Putting Her Through School:

Debbie Ly via Storyful

While the grandparents of Nachtigal’s fellow graduates sat in the stands; five of Nachtigal’s great grandchildren were there cheering him on.

His granddaughter, Hillary Cardenas said she could not be more proud of her grandfather. 

“He’s very smart, he’s very astute. He is a mechanic; he’s helped this town. They all used to know where he lives, he knows everybody. So, for him to have this honor is just such a beautiful thing,” Cardenas told KSN.

Nachtigal said serving in the Marine Corps has been one of his highest honors. 

“I think every Marine is proud of the Corps and I just hope I set a good example for younger ones.”



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