World War II vet gets high school diploma at age 89

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A World War II veteran receives something he's waiting more than seventy years to get his hands on, a high school diploma.

Billy Mills attended Galena Park High School in 1944. He was a part of the football team, loved shop class and was smitten with a young girl named Wanda Lee Huffman. But Mills said he wasn't too focused on school.

"I had other things to do," said Mills. "I failed, like one and a half credits, and Uncle Sam said come on."

Mills was drafted into the Army and months later was deployed to the southeast Pacific. He never had a chance to make-up his high school credits.

"I goofed up and did not get it. It was all my fault," said Mills.

Two years after going to war, Mills returned home. He married the love of his life, Wanda, and had five children. He worked in the oil industry and had a successful career, but there was still one thing that kept haunting him; he never got his diploma.

"Apparently it bothered him all of these years that he never got his diploma," said Mills' daughter Denice.

Denice said she reached out to Galena Park ISD. The district had Mills fill out some paper work and submit Mills' separation papers. And in just a few short weeks, Mills was called to come and accept his diploma.

"It's been a long time," said Billy Mills.

"Very proud. And very happy for him," said Denice Mills.

On Monday, Mills put on his cap and gown and was presented with his diploma during the Galena Park ISD board meeting. His wife of 69 years was by his side along with his entire family. Mills is the oldest graduate in Galena Park ISD history, the district said.

Mills said he has one message for high school drop outs.

"You're nuts. You're nuts, stay in there apply yourself and get that diploma," said Mills.

Mills said he's going to hand his diploma by his bedside so that he can see it every day when he wakes up and goes to sleep.
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