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WWII veteran receives high school diploma after 70 years; now thinking about college

Apr 2, 2015

Quinlan worked on naval air patrol bombers during WWII.
Credit Flickr user England / Flickr

There's a lot of talk about supporting our military veterans as they come home and transition back to civilian life. The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency is standing by to help vets in a variety of ways, from employment to benefits and resources to transition assistance.

And WWII veteran Franklin Quinlan's experience shows that their assistance is there for a lifetime.

Quinlan recently received his high school diploma with help from the agency.

The veteran decided to get his diploma because one of his sons received a doctorate in physics and he says, "I wanted to show him his father was quite well-educated, too."

The agency helped contact his high school and after looking up his 70-year-old record, they discovered he was entitled to a diploma.

Upon receiving it just weeks later Quinlan says, "The date they had marked, 1939, I then felt like I was 18 years old again." 

Quinlan served in the merchant marines and Navy working mostly on the Pacific coast with naval air patrol bombers.

When he returned to the United States, he already had a family to support and jumped right into work as a high pressure boiler operator.

Throughout his lifetime Quinlan often changed occupations. He's spent time as a fireman and sergeant with the Ferndale Fire Department, a builder, and then owned a concrete business, a party store and Quinlan's Irish Gifts.

"You name it, I've done it," he says.

With four kids, 12 grandkids and 12 great-grandkids, Quinlan is busy, but he still finds time to visit schools and teach children about his service.

"What's next? I haven't quite planned yet. I'm possibly thinking maybe I'll go back to college and see about getting a degree in history and teach history," Quinlan says. "That will hold me until I am probably about 100 and then I'll think it over then."

For veterans who are transitioning back to life as a civilian, Quinlan offers the advice of concentrating on the next phase of life and joining veterans groups. 

Any Michigan veteran can get assistance from the Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency website or call 24 hour hotline 1-800-MICHVET

– Katrina Shafer, Michigan Radio Newsroom