Korean War veteran, 88, awarded high school diploma 70 years later

CLYDE, Ohio — A Korean War veteran realized a lifelong dream when he was presented with a diploma from his Ohio high school, 70 years after he left school to fight for his country.

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Vince Golembiowski, 88, was surprised on Christmas Day by his son with news that he would be receiving the degree from Clyde High School, WTOL reported.

“At age 88, they just give me my high school diploma, which is a miracle,” Golembiowski told the television station. “There are six of us left from the class of 1950, and we still see each other.”

The diploma is not an honorary one. According to a Sept. 19, 1953, report in The Fremont News-Messenger, Golembiowski received a diploma while he was stationed in Montana with the Air Force.

But the high school diploma was more meaningful for Golembiowski, who would have graduated with the Class of 1950 but enlisted in the military when he was 17. It was made possible by the former sergeant’s son, Michael Golembiowski.

“I was actually sitting in Fremont one afternoon, and it was actually a thing on one of the local TV stations of some gentleman in his 90s that received his college degree,” Michael Golembiowski told WTOL. “So I got to thinking, ‘Well, you never see anybody getting their high school diploma at that age.’”

So he contacted the Clyde-Green Springs School District and surprised his father on Christmas with the announcement.

On Jan. 26, it became official with an actual diploma finally handed to Vince Golembiowski at the high school, WTOL reported.

“On behalf of Clyde High School and the Clyde-Green Springs Board of Education, it is my distinct honor to thank you for your service to this country and to award you this diploma tonight,” said Joe Webb, the principal at Clyde High School.

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It’s another achievement in Vince Golembiowski’s long life.

“I’ve had the opportunity to be a crew chief on the F-86 jet fighter. Crew chief on the C-54 four-engine transport,” Vince Golembiowski told WTOL. “I’ve shaken the hand of Syngman Rhee, the president of South Korea.”

“He left school to enter the Korean War and serve our country,” Webb told the television station. “And whenever you get the chance to honor somebody who has dedicated to our country to that extent, it’s special, and so we feel great for Vince and his family tonight.”

Michael Golembiowski graduated from Clyde High School, and, like his father, served in the military. The younger Golembiowski also graduated from the Ohio Peace Officers Academy and was a member of the Navy SEALs.

Michael Golembiowski said getting his father the diploma was a way to say thanks.

“My dad’s always done so much for us. I mean, he’s always there so it’s just a way of, you know, being able to return something,” he told WTOL. “I know it’s always been missing in his life.”