CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It's graduation season, and this weekend, Corpus Christi ISD honors its class of 2022.
Foy H. Moody High School's class will have a special guest; a veteran who missed out on his chance to get his diploma nearly four decades ago.
We've reported on Will Henderson's efforts to help those in need. Now, CCISD is returning the favor.
Henderson was supposed to graduate with Moody's Class of 1984, but missed the second half of his senior year after he joined the U.S. Army. Thirty-eight years later, he'll finally be recognized as a graduate.
“They’re giving me my wish, which was to have a high school diploma,” Henderson said.
Leaving high school wasn't Henderson's idea.
“I didn’t drop out,” Henderson says, “I kind of got suckered in.”
Henderson and his brother signed up for the army together Oct. 3, 1983, when Will was 16 years old. Two months later, on Christmas Eve, he turned 17.
“I got a letter in the mail December 27th saying report to Ft. Benning, GA, January 2nd,” Henderson said.
Henderson spent the next six years on active duty; his brother reneged on his commitment.
After his honorable discharge, Henderson re-enlisted, spending another six years in the reserves, and was part of Operation Desert Storm.
Most days, you can find Henderson at Cos-Way fishing pier, catching fish to feed the hungry.
Not graduating high school, however, was often in his thoughts.
“I have it in the back of my mind all the time,” Henderson said.
That's because his mother said she wanted to see one of her kids graduate. She's now getting the chance thanks to Corpus Christi ISD and Moody High School.
“Our district does a great job of locating veterans that have not had the opportunity to be celebrated as graduate,” said Moody Principal Enrique Vela.
Henderson will join the Class of 2022, 38 years after his classmates walked the stage.
For him, it's a dream come true.
“I got that accomplished and it's off my chest,” Henderson said. “I can say to my brothers, to my mom, to my friends that I graduated.”
And the best part? His mom will be there to see it.
“When I get that high school diploma, I’m not going to keep it, I’m going to give it to my mom,” Henderson said.
“I always tell everybody graduation is about the parents,” Vela added. “I'm glad that mom's going to be here to see her son walk the stage at our graduation.”
Henderson says he'll be wearing his military uniform under his robe, so that his mother can see him graduate wearing both. She wasn't able to attend his military graduation.
According to Vela, Henderson will walk in with the Moody seniors and will be honored separately during the ceremony.
Contact Veterans In Focus reporters: Greg Chandler at firstname.lastname@example.org and Pat Simon at email@example.com