Four veterans leave high school to join military, 70 years later receive diplomas

Though it took almost 70 years, a group of veterans who left school to join the Armed Forces finally earned their high school diplomas.

The four pals, seniors at Springdale High School, were set to graduate in 1956 but when they prioritized their service to the country over themselves, they failed to get their school paper. But, in 2022 the school district made the situation right by presenting the four “super seniors” with honorary high school diplomas.

Keep reading to learn more about these fantastic men!

In May 2022, Brenda Self Embry shared a sweet Facebook post where she describes a situation involving her father, a former member of the Air Force.

Referring to her father, Bob Self, she wrote: “[Bob’s] senior year, 1956, he and several classmates decided to leave school to join the Armed Forces. My dad joined the Air Force.”

The other classmates are Carl Stults, Bobby Burke and Charles Leroy Moon.

She added: “But he couldn’t join without having a high school diploma. So he took and passed the GED but, at the time, Springdale did not recognize that and wouldn’t issue him a diploma. So, the State of Arkansas issued his diploma from Little Rock Central.”

“I took a GED test when I went into the Air Force and at the time, Springdale didn’t recognize the GED test,” Self said. “I got a diploma from Little Rock Central.” 

Expressing his gratitude for his time in the service, where he traveled to Hong Kong and the Philippines, Self continued: “I don’t want people telling me what to do and I’m like okay, I joined the Air Force.” Next, speaking of his thoughts before he joined the Air Force, he added, “But about two days after I got there, they were really telling me what to do.” 

‘Truest spirit of America’

His daughter, also a former student at Springdale High School, explains that Dr. Jared Cleveland, the superintendent of the school district, made right of the earlier wrongs.

Credit: Shutterstock

She shares that he “decided these men needed their diploma from their Alma Mater,” and that the four men received honorary diplomas alongside the 484 graduating seniors. “These guys walked at SHS graduation and got their diplomas. So special!”

During the ceremony, Cleveland read letters from Asa Hutchinson (the former Governor of Arkansas) and U.S. Representative, Steve Womack.

“They served during the time of the Korean conflict and beyond. At that time, they didn’t think about themselves, they didn’t think ‘What about me?’” Womack wrote. “They answered the call of duty. Is that not the truest spirit of America?”

‘Congratulations to all’

Embry’s Facebook post, which includes photos of the men wearing their graduation robes and caps, attracted scores of praise from the online community.

One netizen commented: “Please thank your dad for his service to our country! What a great honor for your dad today. Congratulations to all.”

“I love this!!! Congratulations on finally getting to walk for graduation and thank you for your service!!” wrote a second.

Meanwhile, another acknowledged Cleveland for recognizing these gentlemen who served the country before serving themselves.

“I am so glad Dr. Cleveland recognized the value of the decisions these men made when they were young. Congratulations Bob! I don’t know the other [three] men, but, when it comes to your Dad, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy,” the cyber fan wrote.

The honor also couldn’t have happened at a better time.

Self, who worked under his own brand as an electrician in Northwest Arkansas, died at 86 in October 2023.

The honor for all four of these men is so deserved!

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