Abilene veteran gets high school diploma over 50 years after dropping out

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) - Over 5 decades in the making, an Abilene veteran can now say his education is complete thanks to a special ceremony at Johnston Elementary School Tuesday afternoon.

Robert Terry dropped out of school in 10th grade because his family was struggling financially and joined the military as soon as he turned 17, a decision that brought him to Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene. 

"My mother said she would approve that if I finished my high school degree in the Air Force," Terry told KTAB and KRBC.

Once in the Air Force, Terry completed a GED course shortly before getting shipped overseas for a 1-year tour of Vietnam, and when his journey in the military ended in 1967, he still held onto hope he would get a high school diploma. 

Terry, carrying his weathered GED certificate from the armed forces he's held-fast to for decades, went to the AISD Adult Learning Center recently to ask about making his dream come true. 

Tuesday, students at Johnston Elementary School helped bring that dream to fruition with a veterans day program that ended with Dr. David Young presenting Terry with the diploma he never got a chance to earn over 50 years ago. 


Terry says he pursued his diploma because he doesn't "want any of my grandchildren or great-grand children to get the idea that it's okay to drop out of school, because it's not, but for me to give them an example of a diploma and being recognized in this way it's special to them as well as me."

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