Army veteran, 83, receives high school diploma
READING, Pa. — When Edward Lee "Tex" Campbell Duncan enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1946, a high school diploma wasn't on his radar.
He was 17 and had recently moved to Reading from Winston-Salem, N.C. Most of his friends had already enlisted, so Duncan decided he might as well follow suit.
"Back in the day, a lot of my friends were already signed up," Duncan said. "I felt left behind."
Duncan said he got quite an education thanks to the military, both in academics and life.
"I got to see places I never would have gotten to see," he said.
After his discharge he continued to travel and eventually became fluent in Spanish and French. He held dual citizenship in the United States and Canada, joining the Royal Canadian Regiment and once standing in the honor guard for England's King George VI.
He even became an expert chess player.
But in the back of his mind, he said, he always wondered about that diploma.
Recently, the wondering ended.
Duncan, 83, was awarded an honorary diploma by the Reading School District through the national Operation Recognition program, which authorizes local school districts to award diplomas to any honorably discharged veteran who served during World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War.
"I feel like a new me," Duncan said, smiling wildly has he clung to his new diploma shortly after a brief ceremony at a Reading School Board meeting.
Now that he has a diploma, Duncan plans to do what many high school graduates do: go to college. He said he'll enroll in Reading Area Community College with hopes of gaining a business degree.
And as for the diploma itself, that's something he's going to cherish.
"I'm not sure yet where I'm going to put it," he said. "But I'm going to put it somewhere special."