World War II veteran gets high school diploma at 91 years old

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DURANT, Okla. (KXII) -- A 91-year-old World War II veteran walked across the stage Thursday night, graduating from high school about 70 years after his classmates.

High school graduation is a day students dream of as they grow up. But one graduate has been waiting longer than most. In fact, he's been dreaming about this day for the past seven decades.

"It's a big thrill, to get that diploma," Talma Sadler said.

Staff Sergeant Talma Sadler, 91, said he dropped out of school at 16 to join the army.

"I had to have a job and you had to registered for the draft, so I told them I was 18 and then they drafted me," Sadler said.

He served in the pacific and was there when Japan surrendered in 1945.

"It's war time, It's just like Uncle Sam says I want you," Sadler said.

Getting his diploma was always a dream. But now, thanks to the state's veterans high school diploma program, Sadler's dream came true.

The program allows anyone who left high school prior to graduation to serve in World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War, to get their diploma.

Sadler's school, Mangum High School, sent his diploma, dated May 17, 1945, for him to receive at the Durant High School graduation, where Sadler now lives.

A special moment for all the graduates walking beside him, especially Cade Ogden.

"For him to go lie about his age like that, just to go serve his country, that's crazy right there," Ogden said.

Ogden is heading to the naval academy in a few weeks.

"It's great what he did and I want to go serve my country," Ogden said.

As far as Sadler's plans now that he has his diploma.:

"If you want to go on to college, you got to have a diploma," Sadler said.

"You're going to college?" News 12 asked.

"Probably will," Sadler said as he laughed.

But more than anything, he's an inspiration for his fellow graduates.

"It's a big world out there, get your share."

Of the 205 graduates Thursday night, administrators tell us at least three plan to join the military. Sadler said he's proud to have shared his graduation with them.