Korean War vet receives high school diploma at 83

Norm Johnson left school 67 years ago to enlist
Posted at 1:41 PM, Feb 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-08 22:36:43-05

SAN DIEGO - Sixty-seven years after leaving high school to serve his country, a Korean War veteran received an honorary high school diploma Wednesday.

Norm Johnson, 83, attended San Diego High School before leaving early to join the United States Air Force in 1951. Since then, Johnson has lived a life filled with unbelievable experiences. He's served as a bodyguard for Gen. Douglas MacArthur, met Elvis Presley and actor James Dean, and performed public relations work for boxer Joe Lewis, according to the San Diego County Office of Education.

The Las Vegas resident has worked as a sportswriter for the Las Vegas Sun, a hotel entertainment director, and auto racer, according to his Facebook profile. He is also a second-degree black belt.

But that simple piece of paper is something quite special.

Johnson, who has already earned a high school GED, told 10News' Hannah Mullins that he knows the diploma, "is just a piece of paper," but at the same time, he wanted the opportunity to toss his hat in the air like that of his former classmates.

The San Diego County Board of Education presented Johnson with an honorary diploma under Operation Recognition, a state program for those who didn't finish high school for veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and Japanese- Americans World War II internees.

Johnson is just the 10th person honored by the county under the program since 2004.