Korean War Veteran Receives Diploma 60 Years After Draft - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Korean War Veteran Receives Diploma 60 Years After Draft

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Korean War veteran received his high school diploma Wednesday morning, more than 60 years after being drafted.

Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder, Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, and Sen. Douglas Henry presented Korean War era veteran Corporal William Milton Duncan with the diploma at the Senate Library in the State Capitol.

The 84-year-old approached Senator Henry last month to find out more about the honorary high school diploma benefit for Korean War veterans.

"As a WWII Veteran myself, I know there are several young men who never got the chance to complete their education," Henry said. "Bill put his state and country first back in 1951 and it is important to see Tennessee give him his dream after all these years."

Corporal Duncan said getting his high school diploma was not about recognition, but was a way to raise awareness about a little known state benefit.

"I just want all veterans to know there is a way to get your high school diploma if you had to forgo your education to serve the greatest nation in the world," Duncan said. "It has been a dream for me for a long time and this diploma is an important part of my history that I will treasure the rest of my days."

Duncan is a Tullahoma-native, but currently lives in Nashville. He was one of 14 children, and could not afford the $25 fee to attend high school in the 1940s. A few years later, he decided to go back to high school to become the first male in his family to graduate; however, he received a draft letter from the federal government in 1951 and began serving in the United States Army during the Korean War.

"Corporal Duncan is an inspiration to all of us," Grinder said. "He gave up his dream of graduating from high school to serve his country and we are excited to present him with a high school diploma after more than 60 years of service, hard work and perseverance."

Duncan served in Alaska and Fort Knox, Kentucky and achieved the rank of Corporal before receiving an honorable discharge. He later pursued a career in manufacturing until his retirement at the age of 82. He has since resumed part-time work at a South Nashville grocery store.

Veterans who were unable to receive their diplomas due to an interruption in their education by service in World War I, World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War are now able to receive their diploma under a state law that went into effect in 2010. The Tennessee Department of Education said only three to four have done so.

For more information regarding high school diplomas for World War, Korean War and Vietnam War Veterans visit http://www.tn.gov/veteran/state_benifits/vet_diplomas.html.

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