AKRON, N.Y. (WKBW) — A 95-year-old World War II veteran, and Akron native, receiving his high school diploma, nearly 80 years later.
Too shy to speak to our cameras, his story is told by a fellow veteran who made it all possible.
Never in a million years did 95-year-old Stanley Wyder think he would be awarded his high school diploma.
"Over the course of our speaking with each other, he told me that one regret that he had was that he didn't get his high school diploma," Batavia Veterans Affairs resident, John McCune said. "We've known each other for four years, and over the course of four years, he has mentioned it several times."
Wyder was drafted in 1944, in his senior year of high school. The Akron High School student and Battle of the Bulge survivor, served our nation, until 1946.
"Back in those days, a high school diploma was a big deal. You have to remember," McCune said.
So, his buddy, John McCune who is also a veteran at the Batavia VA, pulled a few strings with Akron School officials and Wyder's close family and friends.
Akron Central School District superintendent, Patrick McCabe said, "We keep an archive of all of our students who attended here. Regardless, we had to go back to 1944 to determine that in fact, Mr. Wyder was enrolled in the district for a period of time. We found no evidence of his graduation.
McCune was then able to make Wyder's dreams come true.
McCabe said, "It was just tremendous. He was absolutely caught off guard. It was a surprise graduation for him. Lots of tears from his daughter and other family members. A traditional graduation at that point. We had cake and a reception."
"Super glued the edge around the cap and then cut some strips for the gown, which turned out really nice. I was really surprised," McCune said. "You can't tell him ahead of time or he won't do it. He's very shy. He's a shy individual."
Thanks to New York State's Operation Recognition, veterans are allowed to earn high school diplomas if they left high school without graduating. It is to recognize the dedication and sacrifice who put their country first before their education.
McCabe said, "It was a tremendous honor to represent the school district and award Mr. Wyder his graduation. He served from WWII to 1944-1946. A 95-year-old graduate is certainly a mark in my professional career, but no doubt within the district."