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96-year-old WWII pilot is set to graduate college, 68 years later

Bob Barger (UT Director of Military and Veterans Affairs/Radio TV/YouTube)
May 02, 2018

World War II veteran Bob Barger hasn’t been in a classroom in 68 years, but he is going to graduate this week from the University of Toledo in Ohio at the age of 96, CTV News reported.

After serving in the Navy as a pilot during WWII, Barger worked and went to college. He eventually got married and started a family, but did not finish college.

Barger’s transcripts were recently evaluated, and it was discovered that the classes he completed in the 1940s earned him an associate’s degree.

There were no two-year degrees several decades ago, but the university found that Barger has enough college credits – 83 credit hours – to receive the degree, which wasn’t an option to him then. That was 20 more credit hours than Barger needed for an associate’s degree.

The university said it doesn’t recall anyone older than Barger graduating. He will receive his degree on Saturday.

“It was something I never dreamed of. I knew I couldn’t go back to school now,” Barger said.

“I’m going to be proud to hang that diploma on the wall and think about the friends behind it. I found that without friends, this old world wouldn’t be worth living in,” he added.

Five years ago, Barger became friends with the school’s director of military and veteran affairs, Haraz Ghanbari.

“We actually had to go into the archives to find his transcripts,” said Barbara Kopp Miller, dean of University College at Toledo.

“It’s the right thing to do. He deserved. He earned it. It’s so cool to honor a member of our greatest generation,” Kopp Miller said.

Barger served in the Navy as a pilot, flying seaplanes for scout observation over the Gulf of Mexico.

While being stationed in Norman, Oklahoma, Barger experienced a bunk house explosion.

Members of the university’s Student Veterans of America chapter bought him a cap and gown, and planned a huge celebration party with more than 100 guests attending.