WWII Vet Has Graduation After Missing It 80 Years Before To Join Army

A World War II veteran, now 101 years old, participated in his college’s commencement ceremony 80 years after he had to miss it due to his activation as part of the Army Air Corps Reserve. 

Fred Taylor was quoted as saying that he had no regrets about entering into the service. 

He said flying was fun; his only regret was not attending his college graduation.

Taylor was among over 200 graduates at a May 14 ceremony at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. After completing all the necessary coursework for his music degree, he enlisted in the reserve after Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1941. 

Taylor explains that on February 19, 1943, his senior year of college, the Air Corp Reserves were activated, and he was ordered to report to Missouri for basic training at the Jefferson Barracks.

Taylor reflected on the loss of the graduation ceremony. He said it felt “incomplete.”

While Taylor was at basic training, his father drove to campus to pick up his diploma.

President Brand of Cornell University said of the ceremony that every time he mentioned Taylor’s name, he got a standing ovation.

Brand said he found it uplifting, and it moved him deeply. It completed the circle of his relationship with Cornell. He embodies every desirable trait in a Cornell graduate– respectful, articulate, modest, friendly, and loving. 

Taylor completed all the necessary coursework and auditions to get a bachelor’s degree in music from Cornell College. Many young men of his generation, including himself, had their lives altered by the United States’ entry into World War II after the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Taylor’s daughter Linda Taylor, now a professor emerita at the University of Miami, contacted Cornell College a few months ago to see if her father might go across the stage at the commencement ceremony and complete what he had begun.

Ask what his thoughts were, Taylor said, “Thrilling.” 

It brought back a lot of good times, Taylor said.  He said he was also thinking of his 75-and-a-half-year marriage.