BETHANY, Okla. - A Vietnam vet is celebrating after he finally received his diploma - 51 years later.
"It's awesome. It's real awesome," said Russell Ring.
Ring left Bethany High School early and volunteered to go to Vietnam to serve our country and help his family out financially with his military pay. And, he was right in the thick of the danger in Southeast Asia.
"I was a helicopter crew chief and a door-gunner,” Ring told News 4.
He was flying in those Huey’s, hanging out the side door doing battle from the air.
"You didn't really have a seat belt,” Ring said. “You had a belt around you with a cord to it, so if you fell out you wouldn't fall very far, and my machine gun was on a bungee cord so I shot off a bungee cord."
After the war, Ring went on to get his GED and a college degree, but never the high school diploma from his home high school in Bethany. That’s what made the event so special.
"I’m happy to get me a high school diploma now at 70 years old!" he said.
Bethany High School honored all veterans during the school assembly. And this is a school that knows a lot about the military - students who had a connection to the military were asked to stand.
"I was really surprised that we had so much representation of all the branches of the military,” said Bethany HS teacher Josh Delozier. “Including some kids that we know have already enlisted in the military after high school, so it was great."
Ring shares that sentiment.
“Veterans Day is a very important day to me for all the veterans that have served our country,” Ring said while his eyes were welling with tears. “And I get to thinking about the people we lost, it will bring a tear to my eye really quick so I’m careful not to talk about that."