LAFAYETTE, Ind Walking across the stage and receiving a high school diploma is a day many look forward to for a long time. It's a day Dutch Fleming said he never thought he would see.
"Surprised that this happened, really surprised," Fleming said about his big day. "It's quite an experience."
"It's really rather unique. Very few children get to see their father graduate," Fleming's son, Earl Fleming, said.
Fleming was drafted into the military during World War II. So with less than two months before graduating from Lafayette Jefferson High School he joined the Navy on April 13, 1943.
"I had enough credits and they gave me my diploma but I wasn't there," Fleming said about the graduation he missed. "I guess they gave it to my folks, but I was away."
Instead of spending the day celebrating with classmates Fleming was fighting for his country on the beaches of Normandy.
"On Easy Red Beach of Omaha," Fleming recalls. "It was quite a day, a pretty rough day."
Now, 70 years later, Fleming had quite the day. Staff from Creasy Springs Health Campus in Lafayette, where Fleming lives, contacted his alma mater. Jeff High School administration arranged for Fleming to join the rest of the 2013 class and walk across the stage to receive his diploma. With friends and family watching Fleming made his way up on the stage.
"It's pretty special. All of this notoriety is kind of overwhelming," Fleming said.
"To take this time and show gratitude and let him share his special day that he didn't get to 70 years ago. That's a long time," his son said.
When asked about his plans after graduation, he jokingly said he plans on retiring.
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