Six veterans who reside in Sacramento County were awarded their belated high school diplomas in a ceremony held June 1 at the Sacramento County Office of Education's David P. Meaney Education Center.
The high school diplomas were presented by the Sacramento County Board of Education through a program called Operation Recognition. Operation Recognition acknowledges veterans who missed graduating with their high school class because they enlisted in World War II or Korean War military service, and Japanese American citizens whose internment in World War II relocation camps prevented them from graduating with their hometown high school class.
Board President John C. Scribner opened the ceremony with salutary remarks and introduced each of the honorees. Diplomas were presented by Board Vice President Christopher W. Woods and County Superintendent of Schools Dr. David P. Meaney to the following individuals:
- Oscar Garcia is a resident of Sacramento from the Land Park/Broadway/Seavey Circle area. Mr. Garcia served in the U.S. Army (Airborne) during the Korean War. Prior to enlisting in the service, he attended Courtland High School in Sacramento County.
- Lester Laird is a resident of the Arden-Arcade area of Sacramento. Mr. Laird served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Before enlisting in the service, he attended Chino High School in Chino, California.
- Charles Edward Marshall is a resident of Galt. Mr. Marshall served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Prior to enlisting in the service, he attended Larned High School in Larned, Kansas.
- Roy C. Okino is a resident of the Fruitridge-Power Inn area of Sacramento. Mr. Okino served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was also interned with his family during World War II at two relocation centers, Poston (Arizona) and Tulelake (California), where he attended school. He would have attended high school at Grant High School in Sacramento County had not his family been relocated from its home in North Sacramento during World War II.
- Frederick Howard Turner is a resident of the Elder Creek area of Sacramento. Mr. Turner served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Prior to enlisting in the service, he attended C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento.
- Willis W. Wilson is a resident of Sacramento in the Lemon Hill area. Mr. Wilson served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Prior to enlisting in the service, he attended high school in Oklahoma.
Boy Scouts from Troops 353 and 363 of the Rancho Cordova area conducted a flag ceremony, later standing by in a formal salute to the veterans following the presentation of diplomas. Rancho Cordova Mayor Pro Tem Ken Cooley joined in recognizing the veterans, joined by Colonel Randy Vidmar (U.S. Air Force, retired) representing Disabled American Veterans, and Rick Bergman, who represented the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Mr. Bergman serves as Director of the Sacramento County Regional Occupational Program and SCOE's statewide Troops to Teachers program. He provided a specially decorated red-white-and-blue cake that was served in the post-ceremony reception.
Students from C.K. McClatchy High School served refreshments to the more than 100 guests present at the reception. The veterans posed for photos with their families and were interviewed by local media.
Operation Recognition was adopted unanimously in October 2001 by the Sacramento County Board of Education to honor individuals whose secondary education was interrupted due to circumstances of World War II or the Korean War. Operation Recognition high school diplomas awarded by the Sacramento County Board of Education are authorized by the California Education Code (§ 51430 and § 51440).
Through the Operation Recognition program, the Sacramento County Board of Education provides a high school diploma to qualifying World War II and Korean War Veterans, and to Japanese American citizens who were interned in World War II relocation camps. As stated by Board President John C. Scribner, "This is a gesture of our society's gratitude for the sacrifices these individuals made in the name of freedom." The Sacramento County Board of Education has provided Operation Recognition high school diplomas to 41 individuals, including three posthumous awards.
Those interested in applying for an Operation Recognition diploma for themselves or a qualifying family member should call (916) 228-2416.