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Wars stood in the way of their high school diplomas
At age 80, John E. Pound of Ceres finally has his high school diploma. He wasn't able to earn his because he was only 16 when he enlisted in the Naval Reserve at the end of World War II.

On Nov. 18 the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) awarded diplomas to Pound and five other military veterans through the "Operation Recognition" program. Stanislaus County residents whose high school education was interrupted during World War II, Korean or the Vietnam War due to military service and/or internment are eligible to apply and receive a belated high school diploma.

Pound and his sons - all Vietnam War veterans - Thomas E. Pound of Hollister (Army), Harold "Al" Pound, 60, of Modesto (Navy), and Ronald L. Pound of Oroville (Army) received their diplomas at the event. Others were Vietnam War veterans William P. Motty of Turlock, and James David Blackshear of Ripon. Korean War Naval veteran Russell Dee Gabbard of Modesto also received one from Superintendent of Schools Thomas Chagnon.

"I wanted my diploma because I wanted to go out and get good job," Pound said. "You can't even drive a school bus without a diploma."

He said he feels great and loves "getting around still."

Pound's wife, Carrie, confirmed that her husband is serious about finding work, mostly out of boredom.

The seven-year Ceres resident did quite well for himself without a high school diploma all these years. While attending high school in Plainfield, N.J., Pound enlisted in September, 1945. He intended to join the Reserves but was talked into regular Navy service and two days after his induction the war was officially over.

"I was in the Navy for four years. It was a good ride."

Instead of going overseas, Pound went through three or four Naval schools during service in the Naval Air Corps. He was employed in aircraft maintenance at a Petaluma rocket testing ground. Mr. Pound left the Navy in 1949 without a diploma but went as far as he could. Pound was employed by Aerojet and worked with astronaut John Glenn in the Mercury space program, saying "he was there off and on every time we were assembling the rocket." He also worked for General Electric on the first atomic energy power plant made for Japan.

"Most of my work has been with government contracts and each one lost their government contract, including FMC."

Pound also worked at Sylvania, the Wrigley chewing gum plant in Santa Cruz, and Ford Aerospace in Sunnyvale, now Lockheed-Martin, until he was laid off.

"The little bit of experience did me a lot of good."

Carrie said the diploma ceremony was "really nice. I was just happy for the kids getting their diploma. They worked real hard to get them."

Son Tom was unable to be present at the ceremony because he was on a trucking run in Las Vegas. But he is thrilled to have a diploma, his mother said.

The Pounds came to Ceres to be near son Dan, who was injured in an auto accident back in the 1990s.