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Navy vet gets diploma 77 years after leaving high school to serve in WWII

A diploma. (State Farm/Flickr)

Like many young people of his generation, David Russell Tyson answered the call to serve his country during World War II when he was still a high school junior.

After 77 years — and just two days shy of his 95th birthday — the Navy veteran finally received his diploma.

During a brief ceremony at Tyson’s home in McCandless on Feb. 26, North Hills School District Superintendent Pat Mannarino presented him with an honorary diploma from the former West View High School, which became part of the North Hills district in 1965.

“I never expected anything like this,” Tyson said through tears during the presentation. “I’m just a plain Joe, that’s all.”

Tyson said he didn’t dwell on missing out on graduating with the rest of West View’s Class of 1945.

“Life keeps on going and you make the best of it,” he said.

After attending boot camp in Maryland, Tyson was stationed at the Naval Air Station in Atlantic City, N.J.

He served during World War II with Carrier Air Service Unit 24 and Carrier Air Service Unit 33. He was stationed in Philadelphia, Rhode Island and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

After serving in the Navy for four years, Tyson received an honorable discharge and moved back to Pittsburgh.

In 1952, he married the former Jean Guiden, who graduated that year from West View High School. Six years later the couple bought the McCandless home where they raised their two children and still reside.

The Tysons will celebrate their 69th wedding anniversary this year.

Tyson is a retired railroad office engineer who worked for 40 years with the Penn Central Transportation Co. and Conrail.

Mannarino said it was a personal honor to present Tyson with an honorary diploma.

“To be able to do this for a man who is a World War II veteran, who left high school early to serve our country, it touches my heart,” Mannarino said. “It’s very emotional. I am thankful his family reached out to us and we were able to make this happen for Mr. Tyson. It’s long overdue.”


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