Happy & Inspirational

Korean War Vet Graduated High School At Age 87

Congratulations to this special graduate!

It’s never too late to graduate! An 87-year-old man from Michigan is proof of that.

Edward Sanders from Jackson, Michigan, got his high school diploma this past summer, at the same time as his great-great-niece, Alex Bissell.

Sanders received his Class of 2020 diploma through a Michigan state act that lets local school boards give high school diplomas to World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans who left high school in order to serve in those wars.

Sanders was an 18-year-old halfway through his junior year when he dropped out to become an Air Force B-47 bomber pilot in the Korean War in 1952. Sanders told MLive. He said he felt like he “was king of the world” when he first started learning to fly at age 15 through a local flight school and then started soloing at 16. That love of flying led him to drop out of high school and join the Air Force.

“Next thing I knew I was in Korea, wishing I was back in Jackson,” Sanders said.

Take a look at the MLive video on YouTube where Sanders highlights his journey from Korean War pilot to recent high school graduate.

Sanders served four years as an active-duty military member and four years in the reserves before leaving the service. He lived in his hometown of Jackson, Michigan, which is 39 miles south of Lansing and 37 miles west of Ann Arbor, before and after his military service.

After leaving the service, he married a fellow Jackson resident, Patricia, and they had three children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Ed worked in factory jobs and retired from Ann Arbor Tool, but he never flew again after the military.

The idea to contact his almost-alma mater, Jackson High School, came up in 2020, and the school principal was able to make his graduation happen.

“I never dreamed I could do it,” Sanders said. “I’d given up on it.”

Sanders and great-great-niece Alex Bissell both got their Jackson High diplomas in socially distanced outdoor ceremonies on Aug. 8, 2o2o to accommodate gathering restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sander’s family shared the news of his graduation on Facebook in July, after he picked up his diploma and cap and gown. Sandy Mays posted, “We are so proud of this Korean War Veteran. He has just turned 87 and finally received his High School diploma from Jackson High School. We are so very happy and proud of Edward Sanders … Congratulations.”

And Sarah Alldaffer-Soltis, who calls Sanders “Uncle Ed,” posted this cute image of the new graduate to the social media site:

Posted by Sarah Alldaffer-Soltis on Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Sanders isn’t the only Jackson High School graduate with a recent claim to fame. Gautham Nagesh recently appeared on one of the first episodes of “Jeopardy” with Ken Jennings as the new host. But Sanders’ achievement stands the test of time.

Congratulations on a long-overdue diploma, Mr. Sanders!