Veteran to get diploma from high school after 56 years

Updated: Dec. 6, 2020 at 10:15 PM CST
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MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - It’s something that has been five decades in the making. A Mississippi County native who enlisted in the Marines before graduating high school is getting his school diploma.

“Well, you know, everybody wants a good education,” Sgt. Charles Pipes, diploma recipient, said.

Pipes grew up in Marie but attended Wilson High School. Not much is left of the whole school, and he enjoyed his time as a Wilson Bulldog.

“Well, I had a lot of good friends,” Pipes said. “I enjoyed sports. Problem was, I didn’t enjoy studying too much.”

His time at Wilson would end before he could graduate. After a tragic accident, Pipes said he needed to getaway.

“So, I decided the best way for me to go after the big accident and everything was the Marine Corp.”

Pipes enlisted in the Marines and was deployed to Vietnam.

But there was always something he wanted, his diploma. So his daughter reached out to Rivercrest Superintendent Sally Bennett.

“She shared with me that her father had attended Wilson High School, which was part of the Rivercrest consolidation years ago, and was unable to complete graduation because he enlisted in the Marines,” Bennett said.

Thanks to a provision from the Arkansas Department of Education that allows veterans to get their diploma, a plan to award him the diploma was set in motion.

“So I took it to our board and they approved it,” Bennett said.

Rivercrest Alum Don Bussey was able to find an old Wilson High School diploma from 1964 and Photoshopped Pipes’ name onto it to give to him.

“I’m just really excited to be able to do that,” Bennett said. “We were able to recognize him during our Veterans Day Ceremony.”

Pipes was not able to attend that ceremony.

Right now, the finishing touches are being put on that diploma, and Bennett hopes to be able to get it to Pipes sometime next week.

During the interview, we were able to show Pipes a photo of his diploma.

“That’s beautiful,” Pipes said.

Other than his family, Pipes said there are two things he is proud of. One being honorable discharged from the Marines.

“And one of them is getting this diploma,” Pipes said.

While he admits, he will likely never use the diploma for anything.

“But it’ll be something I have the rest of my life,” Pipes said.

Pipes hopes that more veterans who may have never heard of the program and want their diploma from their high school take advantage of the program.

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