Vietnam Vet in Clinton receives honorary high school diploma - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Vietnam Vet in Clinton receives honorary high school diploma

Larence Curtis Johnson dropped out of high school to enlist in the Army and serve in Vietnam in 1967. He never had the opportunity to finish his education. Source: Clinton Public Schools Larence Curtis Johnson dropped out of high school to enlist in the Army and serve in Vietnam in 1967. He never had the opportunity to finish his education. Source: Clinton Public Schools
CLINTON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Larence Curtis Johnson was a student at Sumner Hill High School in the 1960s and a football player.

“Between helping on the farm and going to school, I knew I had to make a living for me and my mother,” he said. “I knew the farm wasn’t it. My charge was to go into service to make things better for my family.”

In December 1967, at the age of 17, he dropped out of school to enlist in the Army and serve his country in Vietnam. He was part of the 1st and 58th Cavalry Division, earning a Purple Heart after being wounded in the Tet Offensive in 1968.

He returned home briefly, then served another tour of duty in Korea from 1971-74 before returning home for good.

When he returned home, he went to work, got married and started a family, and never finished his high school education. He served another 23 and a half years in the National Guard and Army Reserve.

When his daughter, Clinton High School graduate Sharon Johnson Quinn, heard that the Mississippi Department of Education now offers the opportunity for Vietnam veterans to receive an honorary high school diploma, she encouraged her father to apply.

“I never got to go back to school to graduate or finish my education,” he said. “My daughter really inspired me to apply.”

The program is available for veterans of the Vietnam War who were scheduled to graduate high school between 1963 and 1973. He submitted his application, MDE sent the form to CPSD for approval and in March, the Clinton School Board unanimously approved the request.

“We’re grateful for Mr. Johnson’s service,” said Dr. Tim Martin, Superintendent of Schools. “It’s an honor to present this diploma now and show our support for his selfless service to our nation.”

Johnson received his honorary diploma during the  school board meeting on April 10 at the Clinton Public School District Central Office board room.

“I’m glad I went and volunteered,” he said. “By me going, I saved someone else’s child from going through what I went through. I put myself in the way to do that.”

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