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Air Force Veteran Pat White Receives Renton High School Diploma 63 Years later

December 13, 2018—In 1955, Patrick White was a 16-year-old junior at Renton High School when he dropped out before graduation to join the Air Force.


“I never regretted leaving high school early to join the Air Force, even during a time when the country was at war,” Pat said. “But, I do have regrets about not receiving my high school diploma.”


Pat served his country on active duty for nearly three decades, rising through the ranks of Airman Basic to Captain. Pat served in many roles including as a ballistic missile instructor and training young airmen to be military officers. He was awarded commendation and service awards for his service including the National Defense Service medal, Meritorious Service medals, Outstanding Unit awards, and other commendation medals.


Pat never stopped learning: He earned his General Education Diploma (GED), and went on to college, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Puget Sound.


Pat recently submitted paperwork under Washington State’s Operation Recognition program to request a diploma from Renton High School. Renton School District staff reviewed the request using Policy 2412, Diplomas for Veterans, and gladly fulfilled Pat’s request.


Today, Pat White was awarded his Renton High School diploma. The event was informal, as Pat requested. Fourteen of Pat’s closest friends, all graduates from Renton High class of 1957—which would’ve been Pat’s graduating class—sat in a long table at a Renton restaurant, just blocks away from his old high school, and celebrated Pat’s latest accomplishment.

“This is a bucket-list item for me,” said Pat. “It means a lot to me to receive my diploma from my hometown high school.”


Pat White diploma Pat White 1955