WWII veteran receives honorary high school diploma at Snowflake graduation

SNOWFLAKE, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- It's graduation time across the state, and so many students are excited to walk down the aisle and get their diplomas. Not many of the graduates, however, are 96 years old.

The 96-year-old graduate's name is Charles Hall, a veteran who missed his chance to graduate high school when the attack on Pearl Harbor happened. Although Hall had a deferment to complete high school, he felt it was his duty to serve his country, and so he did, as a member of the Marine Corp.

"He just did not feel right he was not going off to the military too, so he decided to join the service," said Hall's son-in-law, James Gill, in a phone interview.

Gill, who is also a veteran, said that Hall was once a star athlete and class president, but Hall served the country, despite having a deferment from the military to complete his education. As for why Hall didn't finish high school when he returned from the war, Gill said Hall was an honorable man who had a wife and small child waiting for him, so he got a job right away working in the logging industry to take care of his family.

"He had to make a choice, and that was the choice he made," said Gill.

In hindsight, however, Gill said Hall had told him numerous times that his biggest regret was not finishing high school, and that he believes he would have been able to provide more for his family in the long run, if he had continued his education. Gill said he felt Hall needed to be recognized for being the great man that he is.

"I wasn't going to let him fall through the cracks, so I took charge on this," said Gill.

On Friday, Hall will be granted an honorary diploma from Snowflake Union High School.

"This is something, he told me, I thought this would never really happen. I never thought this dream would ever come true," said Hall. "This was a chapter of his life that was never finished being written, and tonight, we can finally finish that chapter of his life and very exciting time for all of his family. For all of his friends and neighbors. It's just a very very good time."

FOX 10 tried to speak with Hall, but he was not feeling well enough, and wanted to conserve his energy for the graduation ceremony Friday night, where he will be walking down the aisle, more than 70 years after he was originally planning on graduating high school.