Several decades after last attending class, a 96-year-old World War II veteran on Saturday reportedly received his college diploma.
Bob Barger, who piloted Navy planes during the war, received his associate’s degree from the University of Toledo in Ohio to a standing ovation, according to The Associated Press. Dressed in the classic cap and gown, Barger beamed as he looked at his diploma.
The degree came more than 60 years after Barger last took a class. But when his records from the late 1940's were recently looked at again, they indicated that he’d finished enough credits to receive the two-year degree, which hadn’t been an option when he was attending the university.
After Barger learned that he would be graduating, he told The Associated Press that it “was something I never dreamed of.”
"I'm going to be proud to hang that diploma on the wall and think about the friends behind it," he previously said. "I found out without friends, this old world wouldn't be worth living in."
After serving in World War II, Barger returned to Toledo, Ohio and enrolled in college. But working and raising a family consumed his time and he ultimately didn’t finish his degree.
The decision to pull up his records came after Barger became friends with Haraz Ghanbari, the school’s director of military and veteran affairs. The pair met five years ago when Ghanbari, a Navy Reserve officer, asked Barger to officiate his promotion to lieutenant.
He soon learned that the veteran never graduated, despite taking a full course load from 1947 to 1950.
Ghanbari was present at Saturday’s commencement ceremony, sitting with the 96-year-old and escorting him from the stage as Barger shook hands with school officials after receiving his diploma.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.