Focus on Fostoria - June_23c_04

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Fostoria Focus - June 23, 2004


Veterans Receive High School
Diplomas Right on Time
by Leonard Skonecki

Fostoria High School's graduating class of 2004 got some additions Monday night. Five men whose march to graduation go sidetracked when they had to march into the service finally received their high school diplomas.

Glen Grove, Clarence "Jack" Ressler, John Groves, James Alley and David Martin received their diplomas at a ceremony during the school board meeting June 21. It is the first time the school board has made such a presentation.

Seventy one year old Glen Grove is a Korean War veteran. He served in 1952-53, a combat infantryman with the Army's 3rd Division.

"I was in my last year of high school, Glen said, "when they activated the Ohio National Guard unit I was in so I had to quit. I couldn't graduate."

Glen led a machine gun squads. In 1953, he was wounded in action. Like his diploma, his Purple Heart was late arriving. He received it in 2001, 48 years after he'd earned it.

Glen returned to Fostoria and retired after 40 years with Atlas. He had several jobs and finished up working in the gauge room.

He has his diploma 53 years after he thought he'd get it.

"This is a nice thing," he said. "I didn't really need it. But I really appreciate it."

James Alley's diploma was awarded posthumously. Jim died in 1993. A World War II veteran, he was drafted at age 18 before he finished school. He served from February 1943 until October 1945. An Army Scout, he landed in Europe the day after D-Day.

Jim attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. He earned a Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters and four Bronze Stars.

His daughter Iva said her father tole us children only that "war is hell." Beyond that, he rarely spoke of his experiences.

A machinist, Jim worked at Autolite, Woodville Lime and Flechtner Packing.

Another daughter, Jean, said, "He always told us he was going to make darn sure we graduated from high school. We heard about this. It's just something we wanted to do."

John Groves of Risingsun served in the Army from 1949 to 1952. He was a motor sergeant stationed in Germany with I Co., 18th Infantry, 1st Division.

I was half way through the 10th grade when I quit to go into the service," he said.

That didn't mean John neglected his education. After basic training, he took it up again.

"I got my GED while I was in the Army. I had to do it on my off-duty time. It took about a year."

John signed up for a three-year hitch. That got extended to four when the Korean War broke out.

After the service John worked at Atlas, became an independent trucker for 20 years and worked another 15 for Roppe.

The high school diploma itself doesn't really matter anymore, but the thought behind it does.

"I'm 72," John said. "I don't need it now. But I very definitely appreciate them doing this for us."

Jack Ressler is a 1948-52 Ary veteran. From December 1951 to the end of July 1952 he served in the Korean War. He was a communications specialist and a sergeant first class.

He would have graduated in the class of 1950. He was discharged Aug. 7, 1952. He and his wife Shirley were married 24 days later.

Jack left high school to join the Army.

Shirley said, "It was a trying time and he just thought that's what he should to."

Like John Groves, who is Jack's good friend, he got his GED while in the service. Like the others, Jack didn't let the lack of a piece of paper slow him down.

After the Army, he worked for National Homes, then went to trade school in Chicago and became a tool and die man. He worked 30 plus years at Atlas and became supervisor. The Resslers live on Courtly Rd. Jack built the house they live in.

Jack and John actually received their official diplomas with 85 other veterans in a large ceremony at the University of Toledo in the spring.

Shirley said, "He was ecstatic. He received his diploma on his 73rd birthday.

"It was an impressive ceremony. To see those men up there, it was like a glow was on them, a happiness to get this after all these years.

Dave Martin went into the service Nov. 6, 1945. He missed graduating with the rest of the Class of 1947.

He was a bulldozer operator and electrician with the Corps of Engineers. He was stationed in France where his unit built bridges and highways and completed other projects to help rebuild that country after World War II..

"You name it we did it," Dave said.

Dave returned from the service and worked a half day at Atlas, while attending school the other half day. His last assignment came from Fostoria teaching legend Mabel Borquin.

Miss Borquin asked him to write a paper on his military experiences. Dave did it in scrapbook form.

Miss Borquin gave him one of her rare A's. But for some reason, Dave never received his diploma.

After the service, Dave worked at Atlas, had a painting business, sold insurance and was a supervisor at Copeland Refrigeration.

Dave has a good sense of humor. Before the presentation, he said he hoped he didn't have to make a speech.

But if he did, he would tell the school board, "My parents always told me to think about what college I wanted to go to. Now that I have my diploma, I still haven't made up my mind."

The diplomas have no practical value for their recipients Anymore. But they're a reminder of the educational opportunity these men set aside to serve their country. Congratulations to them all.