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Florence war veteran receives his high school diploma more than 60 years later

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - After coming up one credit short of getting his high school diploma, a retired war veteran had a lifelong dream come true Tuesday.

The year was 1953. Robert Franklin Branton was a senior at Coffee High School. Despite his best efforts, Branton was unable to pull up a physics grade to complete his requirements to graduate.

Fast forward 62-years and a conversation between Branton and his wife.

“We’ve done everything, seen everything, been everywhere, but I don’t have a high school diploma,” stated Branton. “I’ve got two college degrees, but I don’t have a high school diploma.”

A year after high school and with one year of college under his belt, Branton enlisted in the Air Force.

He eventually retired from the Army 25 years later and went back to college and completed two degrees before joining the workforce.

Branton said he always felt empty inside by not having his high school degree. That changed on Tuesday at Florence High School.

“This is the only thing I never finished, so I came back and got my high school diploma from 1953,” explained Branton. “It’s a very exciting day.”

Branton told the crowd of high schools students during the Veterans Day program to always chase their dreams and education, just don’t wait as long as he did.

According to the Alabama Department of Education, any honorably discharged veteran of World War II, the Korean War, or Vietnam who didn’t finish their diploma because of enlistment is eligible to receive it. Just contact the attending high school’s board of education for more information.