83-year-old Korean War vet gets honorary high school diploma

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SAN DIEGO - A Korean War veteran who left school early to join the Air Force 67 years ago received an honorary high school diploma Wednesday evening at a meeting of the San Diego County Board of Education.

Norm Johnson (Credit: San Diego County Office of Education)

Norm Johnson (Credit: San Diego County Office of Education)

Norm Johnson, 83, attended San Diego High School before entering military service.

As a teenager, Johnson admitted not be a very good student who had gotten into trouble when a judge gave him an option, enlist or go to juvenile hall.

"That didn't make for much of a choice so I joined the Air Force," said Johnson.

According to the San Diego County Office of Education, the current Las Vegas resident served as a bodyguard for Gen. Douglas MacArthur, hung out with Elvis Presley and actor James Dean, and did some public relations work for boxer Joe Lewis.

His colorful life also included stints as a sportswriter for the Las Vegas Sun, a hotel entertainment director and publicist, and an off-road automobile racer, according to his Facebook page. In recent years, he's been a freelance writer and published two books.

Johnson will receive the honorary diploma under the County Office of Education's Operation Recognition, a program for those who didn't finish high school because of war. Veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, plus Japanese- Americans World War II internees, are eligible.

Johnson is the 10th person honored by the county board under the program since 2004.

"I never expected all this attention, I'm just another vet... I just had a lucky star guiding me," said Johnson.

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