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98-year-old WWII veteran receives diploma, says, ‘Learn all you can learn. You’re going to need it’

Diplomas and commissions are presented before a mid-year graduation ceremony held at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., Dec. 14, 2012. (U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Diana Honings/Released)

More than eight decades after leaving high school, World War II veteran George Hudson Place finally received his diploma.

Now age 98, Place got an honorary high school diploma from Alma Bryant High School on May 14. Alma Bryant is in Irvington, about 20 miles southwest of Mobile.

Place, born in 1925, wanted to follow in his older brothers’ footsteps, so he left Bayou La Batre at age 16, lied about his age and joined the U.S. Navy.

“I needed a new pair of shoes,” Place told Mobile County Public Schools. “So I went into the Navy.”

The Alabama House also honored Place on May 7 with, a commendation.

According to the biography in the resolution, Place served in the Pacific Theater in the Marshall Islands for 18 months and achieved the rank of Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class.

After his discharge in 1946, Place worked at the Middleton Air Force Base in Tennessee, then moved back closer to home at the Brookley Air Force Base in Mobile. He then returned to the family business: shrimping and making shrimping nets, which he did for more than 70 years until he retired.

The resolution stated the legislature’s appreciation for sacrificing his education “in service to his country and with our heartiest congratulations on the occasion of his long-awaited and well-deserved high school graduation.”

Place told Mobile County Public Schools TV one of his life lessons to other graduates. “Be open minded. Learn all you can learn. You’re going to need it.”


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