Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
William "Bill" Cline was in the 10th grade in Woodward High School in 1961 at the height of the Vietnam War.
He liked his classmates and school, but felt drawn by the war and military service during a time when he felt a need to serve.
So Cline made a decision to join the Air Force. It was a choice that would change his life but also deny him a chance to graduate with his class.
"I just went down to the recruiter and he convinced me that it was a good idea to enlist," Cline said.
Fifty-two years later, Cline received an important document he gave up to serve his country.
Monday night, during the Woodward Board of Education meeting, Woodward Superintendent Tim Merchant, together with school board member Glenn Billings, presented Cline with an honorary Woodward High School diploma.
"This is one of the best parts of my job," Merchant said as he handed Cline his Woodward High School diploma. "It's my honor."
Tears welled in the otherwise stoic man's eyes as he reached out and grasped the formal document that meant he was officially a member of what would have been his graduating class of 1964.
"This means a whole lot to me," he said.
Standing behind him were a host of friends he would have graduated and wife Deanna.
"This meant so much to him," Deanna said. "I knew he'd be emotional."
The diploma also mean something practical to Cline.
Recently, Cline attended the CLEET course to qualify him for service as a reserve Woodward Police Officer.
While in the Air Force, Cline had taken and passed the GED exam and had the certificate, but it was lost in a house fire.
"We called where they keep the military records in St. Louis, because I knew they would have a copy and they had a fire too and all they had was one fitness report of mine when I was in the Air Force."
So, the timing of Cline's honorary diploma couldn't have been better, he said.
"Now I have this diploma for my file," he said.