Decades after attending public school in Boston, three veterans of foreign wars were honored with high school diplomas at a School Committee meeting Wednesday night.
In a crowded meeting room, the men were awarded the honorary diplomas by Superintendent Carol R. Johnson and Gregory G. Groover, chairman of Boston’s School Committee.
The men or their families recently contacted Johnson requesting diplomas, according to a statement Tuesday from the School Department. A state law entitles veterans who were honorably discharged and served in World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War to get a diploma.
“This is, uh, 62 years late,” said Joseph Doherty, prompting a burst of laughter from the gallery. Doherty left Jamaica Plain High School in 1950 to serve in the Marines during the Korean War.
“Thank you so much for giving this to me,” he said.
One of the recipients, Fred Yenofsky, died nearly six years ago at age 82, Yenofsky’s son, Mark, said in a brief interview after accepting the diploma.
“I wish my father was here to do this with me,” he said, emotion rising in his voice, after receiving the diploma. “I’m sure my father is looking down.”
Fred Yenofsky joined the Army after leaving Dorchester High School in 1941, according to the statement. Mark Yenofsky said his father served in the South Pacific and fought in the battle of Iwo Jima.
After his Army days, Fred Yenofsky was a parts manager for car dealerships around Boston.
Mark Yenofsky said his father was an introvert who rarely discussed World War II.
“If he was alive when I did this, he would freak out,” Mark Yenofsky said.
The third veteran, Maurice Fuoco Jr., left Hyde Park High School in the middle of 10th grade in 1964. In 1966, he joined the Army and served in Vietnam.
“My advice to kids who want the easy way out in life is to stay in school,” Fuoco told meeting attendees.
“I’ve had a good life, but this [diploma] would have made things a lot easier.”