(CNN) – He danced next to Elvis in jailhouse rock. He raced cars against James Dean. He even was nominated for a Pulitzer. One Korean War veteran seemed to have done it all, but now he can add another accomplishment, graduating from high school. “It’s a big day for me.”
66 years since his time at San Diego high school. The now, 83-year-old Norm Johnson used to always stress to his 3 daughters, get your high school diploma.
Johnson said, “Then when they found out that I was getting mine they said Dad we always thought you had it.”
Norm never received it because he joined the military at 17 years old. A senior, who used to ditch class.
Johnson said, “The judge more or less told me you have to join the air force or go to detention.”
Mr. Johnson left high school in 1950, to join the Air Force, he served as an investigator in the Air Police. Operation recognition honored the veteran’s life at the San Diego County Board of Education meeting.
Norm was a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist, meeting three presidents, including Jimmy Carter, a body guard for General Douglas MacArthur and boxing promoter meeting Muhammad Ali.
Johnson said, “There were all these connections and through Joe Louis, I met Frank Sinatra, I met the Rat Pack, Sammy.”
Norm met many actors including Kirk Douglas and Glenn Ford and politicians Harry Reid and Margaret Thatcher.
“Most people who get their High School diplomas, they’re seniors. Norm is a senior! On behalf of the San Diego County Board of Education, a diploma of Graduation!”
Johnson said, “My Birthday is on Valentine’s Day, and this is the greatest birthday present I’ve ever received.”
Suited up in his cap and gown, officially part of the class of 1951.
Johnson said, “Finally I get to toss the hat!”
Johnson received his honorary diploma under “operation recognition,” a California program for those who didn’t finish high school because of war.