Veteran honored with diploma

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Mrs. Pagnusat

Serena Gregory, Contributing Writer

On behalf of the student body at Joliet West Township High school, we were not only excited but honored to have been able to award this special diploma to the beloved Donald Woodard On Tuesday November 11th, Woodard is a 93 year old World War II veteran. Woodard left Joliet Township High school in May of 1939 to join the U.S navy to help support his family back home. “He was one of the first participants to sign up in the mid ‘30s for two different programs that President Franklin designed during the depression.” Said Pagnusat. Woodard’s father was an electrician but due to the depression, it was hard to find work. Woodard acted on his choices and he chose what was best for his family. He made this choice to support them in every way possible during the hard times. Woodard first found himself aboard the USS Texas and neutrality patrol and later the USS Roper, chasing German submarines at night. While in a bad storm at sea, a depth charge on the ship came loose causing Donald’s legs to be injured and many others killed. Woodard experience in the war must have be frightening to tell out loud but many of us should honor him for drafting into the war to help our country. Woodard was later discharged and qualified through the “Operation Recognition” program. This program authorizes schools to award diplomas to honorably discharged veterans who had left school to serve in the military. Woodard was discharged in January of 1940 with the rank of Seaman second class. After his time in the service, Woodard, became an electrician like his father. He earned his 50 year pin with the IBEW Local 176. Following this, Woodard was discharged in January of 1940 with the rank of Seaman second class. After his time in the service, Woodard, became an electrician like his father. He earned his 50 year pin with the IBEW Local 176. Following these major recognitions, our own Junior ROTC program tracked down replacement medals and awards that Woodard had earn in the service, fore he donated his to be placed on display at the union hall. The Students presented these awards to him along with him being award his high school diploma. “I never expected something like this, I appreciate everything everyone has done to make this a reality.” Said Woodard. Donald was honored to have his family alongside him during this special moment. His family included were, His wife Mitzy of 71 years, Their Daughter Sally Pagnusat, daughter, Son In Law, and grandson, Nikki, Joe and Vincent. Some of the wise and heartfelt words we heard coming from Vincent, “Everyone in the room was crying happy tears, and I had water in my eyes too.”

Pagnusat said that “He donated all of his service medals and all his recognition back to the union hall to put on display,” Joliet Wests ROTC had helped tracked down the medals for Woodard and had put them all in a case and presented the badges to him on Tuesday.

Not only was it special to Woodard but also to this young boy to see his great grandfather awarded his high school diploma. Concluded in the ceremony was a special moment for his daughter, fore it was a rare thing to see her father cry. The happiness was all around the room and is and always will be remembered by Donald Woodard and his beloved family. Joliet West was honored to celebrate this special moment with the family. It will forever cherished by us students and staff.Board of Ed with mom.dadMrs. Pagnusat