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Korean War vet receives high school diploma 60 years after quitting school to fight for country

Posted on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 12:01 pm

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Manchester veteran and retired police officer Charles Stanley Pierce was recently awarded an honorary Korean War Veterans High School Diploma from Camden Central High School in Camden, Tenn.

“I volunteered as soon as I got old enough to join the Air Force,” Pierce said.

“My father was drafted into the Army. I was so proud of him in his uniform. I decided then when I got old enough I was going into the military.”

Pierce said that he was shipped to the Okinawa, Japan, soon after basic training and aircraft mechanic school.

He explained that Okinawa was a combat zone during the war. The Air Force was staging B-29 bombing sorties from the island.

“They didn’t have bombers that would reach Okinawa, I don’t believe. Rockets weren’t that far along at that time.”

Pierce spent much of the war maintaining the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, a large, high-flying bomber that entered service late in World War II and had the distinction of delivering the only two atomic bombs used in combat.

Pierce spent a total of just under 24 years in the military, in Civil Engineering, before moving shifting careers to law enforcement. He worked for the Manchester Police Department and other departments for 27 years.

On March 11, the Benton County Board of Education with Mark Florence, Director of Schools, presented Pierce with his Honorary Korean War Veterans High School Diploma, 1953, from Camden Central High School.

Representatives from the Benton County Veterans Memorial, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans were among the guests attending graduation ceremony, along with Pierce’s wife, Jean.

The board told the Camden Chronicle that it would “like to thank Mr. Pierce and his fellow veterans for their service to our country and also extend our congratulations to Mr. Pierce for receiving his high school diploma.”

According to the state, “high school diplomas may be issued to veterans whose education was interrupted by service in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War.  The veteran is not required to be a current resident of the State of Tennessee at the time of the request for a diploma.  A surviving spouse or other immediate family member of a deceased veteran may also request the diploma.”

Qualifying veterans wishing to receive an honorary diploma can first contact their county or city school system.

Veterans can also send the following directly to the State Department of Education:

Honorable Discharge papers with the name of veteran, name of high school if graduated, name of city of high school name of county of high school, year would have graduated.

The school system also sends their address to mail diploma back to them.