Veteran who left high school in 1946 to join Navy picks up diploma

ROSEMEAD, Calif. -- More than 70 years after leaving his high school in Rosemead to join the Navy, 90-year-old Kelly Crowell finally got his diploma on Thursday.

Crowell wasn't the best student and was absent more than he was in the classroom, he told KTLA. He left school, to the chagrin of his mother, to serve his country. He thought about going back to school, but never did.

It was the principal of Rosemead High School who finally convinced him to return.

"It’s not just the age, it’s what it represents," Brian Bristol, the principal, said. "He’s a hero from the greatest generation."

Crowell donned a burgundy cap and gown and sunglasses when he was handed his diploma. His wife and children were in the bleachers watching him fulfill his lifelong goal.

Crowell said he practiced with his fellow graduates before the ceremony, and shook hands with many of them afterward.

“I almost cant believe it,” fellow graduate Diego Hernandez said. "It just shows that it’s never too late to finish what you started."

Kelly's wife, Mary, said she was proud of him.

“I'm glad he lived long enough to achieve this," she said.