Media Archive

Former Milo man graduates high school after 60 years

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 34, August 20, 2003

By Sarah Berthiaume
Special to the Observer

Observer Photo/Sarah Berthiaume
RECENT GRADUATE John Vincent, a 79-year-old Houlton man, received his high school diploma last week close to 60 years after he would have graduated. Instead of marching with his class at Milo High School, Vincent enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943 and ended up serving in Burma during World War II.

HOULTON For John Vincent, it was achievement 60 years in the . making.

Vincent, now 78 years old, would have graduated with from Milo High School with the Class of 1943 if World War II hadn't happened. Answering his country's call to service, Vincent stepped out of the classroom and into the U.S. Army, without a high school diploma a decision not uncommon among students of that era.

Leaving Piscataquis County behind, Vincent was eventually sent to battle the Axis powers occupying Burma.

"My job there was driving [the enemy] out of the jungle," he said.

Along with 2,000 other GIs as part of a "mule-pack outfit," Vincent spent 18-months in the jungle.

"We got our supplies by airplane drop," he said. "When they'd get over us, they'd kick the supplies out [of the plane]. Everything came I down on parachute, even the mule's , feed."

Since that time, the veteran has done a variety of different jobs, including raising two sons and a foster daughter with his wife Madolyn.

"I've done plumbing and heating, driving pulp trucks &Mac247; you name it; I've done it," he said. "I stuck with the B&A for 31 years."

Last week, six decades after Vincent would have had his tassle turned, the Houlton man received a high school diploma, thanks to a bill former Gov. Angus King enacted that offers diplomas to veterans who joined the service before graduation.

"I had been hankering to do this for quite a while," he said.

For Vincent, getting the certificate took a phone call to his alma mater and help from the superintendent of what is now Penquis Valley High School.

"I just called him and he started working on it," explained Vincent.

Less than a month later, Vincent was handed his high school diploma via the U.S. Postal Service.

"I just got the diploma today," he said in an interview last Thursday. "When I got it this morning, I teared up."

Obtaining the diploma wasn't difficult, Vincent said.

"If anyone's interested, they should get a hold of the superintendent of schools," he said. "I thought about [doing it] for years, but I [just] never got around to it until now."

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