For Daisytown resident James Rohaley
, the decision to go to war was easy. He and four friends from the Daisytown area, despite their young age, jumped at the chance to enlist in the Navy when World War II broke out.
"When they bombed Pearl Harbor, I was so mad, I was just furious," he
said."I enlisted straight out of high school." Rohaley
was just 16, an honor student at California Area High School
was too young to enlist, too angry to wait.He
lied about his
age and forged his
parents' signatures to join the military.He
earned the rank of Seaman First Class, and his
ship was credited with sinking a submarine off the coast of California.
But after the war, things were more difficult. Rohaley
came home four years older and without a high school diploma, something he
had to live without, until now.For Rohaley and other local World War II veterans who risked their lives and sacrificed their education as a result of the war, Operation Recognition, a national initiative to pay tribute to World War II veterans, will allow them to finally receive their diplomas.
"Operation Recognition allows school districts to fulfill the academic honor these veterans are due," said state Rep.
...Rohaley received his diploma during this spring's graduation ceremonies at California Area High School and spoke to the graduating class.
"I tried to inspire them by what I was able to accomplish without a diploma," he
said."I told them not to coast through their education, because there are always people behind you that are hungry."
...Although Rohaley had never received his diploma, he has a remarkable resume.He has worked as a public assistance examiner, district justice, deputy warden at the Washington County Jail, served eight years on the California Area School Board and is now a constable.
admits that being hired for jobs throughout his
life has been more difficult without a diploma.
"If you don't have a high school education, you're looked down upon," he
said."It was pretty tough for me without a high school diploma, but with veterans preference, that helped me get hired."
...Rohaley said he is simply happy to finally receive his diploma and to see veterans honored for their service to their country."It just felt good that I finally got my diploma and got recognized," he said.
With veterans taking advantage of the opportunity the new law provides, a move is on to recognize veterans of the Korean War through Operation Recognition.