In a surprising turn of events, a 96-year-old World War II veteran recently received his college diploma from the University of Toledo, Fox News reported.
Bob Barger waited more than six decades for that simple yet significant piece of paper. But after school officials reviewed what he thought were his long-lost transcripts this spring, the credential is finally his.
Barger served in the Navy during World War II, where he piloted naval planes.
When he first attended the University of Toledo in the late 1940s, he had only completed enough credits to receive an associate’s degree, which wasn’t even offered at the time.
He left school to serve in World War II, and but returned afterwards, once again enrolling in classes. But due to the high demands of working a full-time job and raising a family, he had to quit school. It never occurred to him that he might eventually return.
Decades later, however, the university was able to retrieve Barger’s old school records, thanks to a friendship the navy vet forged with Haraz Ghanbari, the school’s director of military and veteran affairs.
The two met five years ago when Ghanbari, a Navy Reserve officer, asked Barger to officiate his promotion to lieutenant. Barger said yes, not knowing that Ghanbari was about to return the favor in a major way.
When Ghanbari discovered that Barger never officially graduated fromthe University of Toledo, even though he took a full course load during his time there, he launched a mini investigation.
“We actually had to go into the archives to find his transcripts,” Barbara Kopp Miller, dean of University College at Toledo, told Fox News.
The records revealed that Barger completed 83 credit hours — about 20 more than he would need to receive his associate’s degree. When school officials notified the 96-year-old that he would in fact graduate, he was absolutely ecstatic
“It was something I never dreamed of,” Barger told Fox.