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Fulton School District Provides Honorary Diploma to WWII Veteran

Oswego resident Norman Smith, a 93-year-old WWII veteran, beams with pride as he was presented an honorary high school diploma from Fulton City School District Superintendent Brian Pulvino, left, and G. Ray Bodley High School Principal Donna Parkhurst.
Oswego resident Norman Smith, a 93-year-old WWII veteran, beams with pride as he was presented an honorary high school diploma from Fulton City School District Superintendent Brian Pulvino, left, and G. Ray Bodley High School Principal Donna Parkhurst.

OSWEGO – Former Fulton City School District student Norman Smith has waited his entire 93.5 years of life to fulfill a dream: graduating high school.

Oswego resident Norman Smith, a 93-year-old WWII veteran, beams with pride as he was presented an honorary high school diploma from Fulton City School District Superintendent Brian Pulvino, left, and G. Ray Bodley High School Principal Donna Parkhurst.
Oswego resident Norman Smith, a 93-year-old WWII veteran, beams with pride as he was presented an honorary high school diploma from Fulton City School District Superintendent Brian Pulvino, left, and G. Ray Bodley High School Principal Donna Parkhurst.

FCSD Superintendent Brian Pulvino and G. Ray Bodley High School Principal Donna Parkhurst were proud to present Smith with an honorary diploma the day before GRB’s very own graduation.

The nonagenarian was unable to complete high school in the early 1940s because he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was shipped off to war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Instead of celebrating with his senior class, Smith spent time in the South Pacific on PT-376, a motor torpedo boat.

Rather than attend a senior prom, Smith had become a real-life war hero after 17 airmen were shot down and he, with the company of other sailors, went at night in rubber rafts and rescued the men.

Pulvino said the official diploma presentation was a long time coming and he was honored to offer that closure for Smith.

“I’m sort of speechless,” Smith said, as he looked around at dozens of family, friends and St. Luke’s Nursing Home caretakers.

Guests wiped away several happy tears and Smith’s grandson, Anthony Ciappa, read one of Smith’s poems “Take Time to See” about the beauty of the world.

The beautiful moment Smith’s family members said they will never forget.

Smith had only recently confided in the Rev. Richard P. Morisette that he greatly wished to receive a diploma.

So Morisette and St. Luke’s staff members worked diligently to make the occasion possible.

Morisette told the crowd Smith is owed “a lot more than a diploma” for his service and sacrifices.

A graduation cake and punch was served to guests following the ceremony.