Men who honor others become honor recipients at special ceremony
On Monday, December 17th a very special ceremony was held to honor men who spend much of their time honoring others. Five members of the Wyandotte Nation Color Guard were awarded the diplomas they did not get because they left high school to serve in the armed forces of the United States of America. “This is one of the best things we get to do,” said Billy Friend, 2nd Chief of the Wyandotte Nation, who presided over the ceremony. Dressed in their Indian color guard regalia, the five men were presented their diplomas to applause and cheers from a grateful audience. Receiving their diplomas were:
Richard Collier who served in both the Army National Guard and then the United States Air Force.
Isaac Tanner served in the United States Air Force.
Ted Nesvold who served as crew chief with the 53rd fighter squadron of the United States Air Force.
Grover Tanner who served with the Armies elite 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles.”
Freddie Comfort who served with the United States Air Force as a radio and later a cryptography operator.
left to right: Richard Collier, Isaac Tanner, Ted Nesvold, Grover Tanner and Freddie Comfort.
The special graduation service was arranged by Carla Culver, Head of the Education Department of the Wyandotte Nation. The Wyandotte Tribe operates schools for children K-12, so it was fitting that she be the one who presented the diplomas as Chief Friend read the list of names. “We wanted to do this for these men because they have given so much for all of us us …and still do!” Culver commented. “As members of the honor guard they give a lot of their time and their financial resources to do what they do, and they make us proud.” Culver said she learned of the program to award diplomas to those who left school to serve their country from the wife of one of the honor guard members. Her husband had received his diploma from Miami High School. Culver conferred with Miami High School, sent the necessary paper work and received diplomas to be presented to the men.
These men entered the military before receiving their high school diplomas. Although several received their general equivalency diplomas, as Nesvold said, “It wasn’t the same as receiving a high school diploma.” “My husband entered the military with only two credits needed to be completed for his high school diploma,” said Barbara Collier. “I know he wished he had it.” Barbara Collier saw an article in a military magazine that some states are giving veterans their diplomas in recognition of their service and sacrifices.
The program, begun in 1999, is called “Operation Recognition.” Nesvold was surprised, when the program was mentioned at the honor guard, that five members were eligible. “We had a duty and we didn’t try to avoid it,” he said. Carla Culver, education director for the tribe, researched the program and spoke with Miami High School Principal Mike Reese. Miami High School, which was already involved with the program, was the tribe’s contact. The diplomas are dated the year the veteran would have graduated from high school. “I had always felt isolated without my diploma,” Collier said. “It felt really good to get it.” His wife admitted that seeing her husband receive his diploma made her teary-eyed. “It meant a lot to me to receive that diploma,” Nesvold said. “My wife, my children and my grandchildren were there to witness it.”