AUBURN -- There were many moments during the early 1940s when Bill Warren
was back in high school instead of the South Pacific.The World War II veteran never went back to high school, but Monday night he received an honorary diploma from the Auburn School District. He
donned a cap and gown -- Auburn High School
green -- and shook Auburn High School Principal Randy Taylor's hand in front of several proud family members and friends at Monday night's School Board meeting.
"I'll cherish this and put it alongside my other awards," Warren
said."This ranks right near the top."Although Warren, 78, would have liked to earn his diploma with his classmates back in 1943, he really had no choice but to quit school and earn a living.
"Times were so tough," Warren
said, recalling how his
family struggled in St. John, N.D. "To be blunt about it, we didn't have anything to eat."
became an Army soldier.As a sergeant and a machine gunner he
share of death and destruction on the battlefield.He
served five years and two months.
"I went through a lot of schools of hard knocks," Warren
said.That's why earning his diploma was so special, he said.
After the war, he
"bummed around a bit," and ended up in Cle Elum in 1949.It was there that he
met and married his
wife, Irene.The couple and their two children moved to the Auburn area in 1959 and have been here since. Warren was able to receive his diploma because of recent legislation, state Senate Bill 6430's "Operation Recognition," which allows veterans who left high school to join the military during World War II to receive a diploma.
The Senate bill allows veterans to obtain an honorary diploma from a Washington school district
even if they never attended high school in Washington state.Several other states have passed similar bills.
Auburn school spokeswoman Daryl Thompson said Warren
was able to receive a diploma from the Auburn School District
has a "strong relationship" with the Auburn community.Warren was instrumental in establishing the Auburn Veterans Memorial, which was dedicated in 2000.
"I worked on that for four years," Warren
said of the memorial.
...Now that Warren has his high school diploma, he's ready for college.
"I'm thinking about it," he
PHOTO by Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter: World War II veteran Bill Warren
, 78, gets a hug from family friend Barb Krawpie after receiving his honorary high school diploma Monday night from the Auburn School District