PARISHVILLE - A Vietnam veteran who would have been in the Parishville-Hopkinton Class of 1970 had he not left school and ended up in the Navy received his high school diploma this week in a small ceremony prior to the start of a board of education meeting.
David P. Taylor of Parishville said he heard about Operation Recognition through a contact at the New York State Department of Labor ,who told him that veterans who served in Korea and Vietnam during the combat years but didnt earn high school diplomas were eligible to do so through this program.
While Mr. Taylor was drafted into Navy, he said he has no regrets and is proud of his service to our country.
Mr. Taylor also said in todays world, which is significantly different than it was in the late 1960s and early 70s, everyone should stay in school and receive a diploma.
I was proud to serve, and I think all teens should really stay in school and get their high school diplomas, he said.
Board of education President Ward H. Remington presented Mr. Taylor with his diploma in front of a small crowd that included Mr. Taylors wife, Colleen, as well as his daughter, Amanda Butterfield, and her three children.
Mr. Taylor, who worked as a union contractor for 25 years, actually worked on building an addition on the school, giving him the unique distinction of helping to build the school where he earned his high school diploma.
I worked on the school for Phil Collins when they built the auxiliary gym, he said.
While in the Navy, Mr. Taylor served aboard the USS Midway with Attack Squadron 93. The massive ship, which Mr. Taylor said was commissioned in September 1945 weighed 64,730 tons and had more than 200,000 horsepower.
Mr. Taylors service in Vietnam included time spent in the Gulf of Tonkin. He was awarded a National Defense Medal, Republic of Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with device and a First Good Conduct Medal.
While Mr. Taylor declined the opportunity to participate in the districts annual commencement ceremony this June, Superintendent Darin P. Saiff introduced him as the first member of the districts class of 2013.
It means a lot to me. I was pretty proud, Mr. Taylor said, wearing a USS Midway cap instead of a mortar board.
Following the presentation of his diploma, Mr. Remington congratulated Mr. Taylor and thanked him for his service.
Ive known you many years, and I would like to say thank you on behalf of our community and school district, he said.
Later when given the opportunity, Mr. Taylor returned those thanks.
I would like to thank the school for everything theyve done, he said.