U.S. News


WWII Veteran Receives High School Diploma, Fulfills Dream

An 89-year-old veteran named Dennis Baca fulfilled his lifelong dream of receiving his high school diploma. He left high school at age 16 to serve in World War II.
Posted at 1:38 PM, Jun 20, 2014

Graduation season is coming to an end, and more than 3 million students received their diplomas in the U.S. But for one graduate, the event was particularly important. 

"Today he isn't walking with his classmates. Instead he walks with the generations he's inspired — family he's encouraged to stay dedicated and stay in school." (ViaKRQE)

Eighty-nine-year-old Dennis Baca left Albuquerque High School in New Mexico when he was just 16 to serve four years in the Pacific Theater during World War II. 

The Albuquerque Journal reports after the war, Baca worked for three decades as a nursing assistant in a veteran's hospital. His granddaughter, Desiree Sanchez, said earning his diploma was a lifelong dream. 

"Myself, my children, my grandchildren live free because of what he did. And 73 years later, he's going to get to walk across the stage." (Via KOB-TV)

Superintendent Winston Brooks says: "This man and his family are such good role models for students and all of us today because they believe that education is important enough to come back all these years later to receive their high school diploma." ​(Via Albuquerque Public Schools)

Despite all the challenges Baca has faced, he was humble and witty in his triumph. The Albuquerque Journal reported when asked what he planned on doing now that he was a graduate, Baca replied: "Eat cake."