NEW PORT RICHEY (FOX 13) - A World War II veteran has gotten what he deserved - 70 years after it was due and less than a year after he passed away.
Pfc. Alfred Smith was drafted to serve in Germany in 1943. He died last fall without ever getting his high school diploma.
That changed Friday night.
"It is hard to explain to young people today how our veterans from WWII changed America," said his son, Tom Smith.
Alfred Smith was drafted in the middle of his high school career in Mississippi, only to return to the US to work to put food on the table for his wife, Ruth, and their four kids.
"He was always proud that he was able to go and thankful to God he did come back and didn't get injured, and had an opportunity when he came home to make something of himself," said Ruth Smith.
Alfred spent 36 years as a vacuum salesman in New Port Richey.
When he died last fall, his grandson, Rob Pullen felt he had to make sure Alfred Smith has finally issued a diploma, arranging with the school district for an honorary degree.
"When he set his mind to do something, he accomplished it. But he felt like if had he had more education, he would have been able to do even better," said Ruth Smith.
That moment came Friday night, in front of 340 teens and thousands of their family members, who gave an ovation Alfred could hear, wherever he is.
"The world that we live in is here solely because of those people who sacrificed their families, their relations, many of them their lives," said Rob Smith.
A final honor for a private first class who had the best excuse ever for not finishing school: he was off saving the world.
"I would just say I am so proud of him. I know he would have been proud," said Ruth Smith.
"I would probably say, 'Hey dad, look what you did today,'" said Tom Smith.
Smith earned a Bronze Star for his service.