HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - David Carney is a Vietnam veteran, and now, a high school graduate.
Graduating high school is a stepping stone for many. A high school diploma is a symbol of success, and a vital part of continuing education.
But for Carney, it was a missing part, until Thursday night at the Knights of Columbus meeting.
"I don't think anyone, anywhere knows that I'm a high school drop out, " said Carney hours before he received his official diploma.
Two associate degrees, one bachelors degree and a MBA later, David Carney is still filling an educational hole.
Carney was a so-called military brat. It was his excuse, he says, to give up on his education early on.
"We moved to a different place, another state again. And that was really old to me. I guess I was rebellious," says Carney.
Not too rebellious, though. Carney found a home in the military serving his country. First the Army from 1962 to 1970 and then 16 years in the Alabama National Guard.
But, he's home now... and something is missing.
"Hey David, would you like your high school diploma?" said Mary Scott Hunter, a member of the Alabama State Board of Education.
"I said yeah, what are you talking about?" Carney said. "She said, well I'll make it happen, and she did."
Hunter helped Carney take a life step.
"If we could find veterans of Vietnam, Korea or World War II who did not receive their diploma and left to go to war and fight for America before they were awarded their diploma, we'd like to present it to them," Hunter said at Carney's Thursday night ceremony.
Carney officially graduated high school Thursday night. He took a step back to take a step forward.
"I guess tonight I'm able to make up for what didn't happen over 50 years ago," said Carney. "It's like a little niche -- a little hole cut in my life -- and all of a sudden it's all coming back together."
It's a piece of paper that will hang high on his wall with honor.
Hunter urges any veteran who did not have an official graduation to contact her. The phone number is 1-888-531-1312.