WEST PORTSMOUTH — John Foster, a Vietnam War Veteran, received his diploma at the age of 73 from Portsmouth West High School.
Foster dropped out during his sophomore year of high school to go into the military and was able to get his GED while serving. While he received his G.E.D. Foster always had a regret of not finishing school and getting his diploma.
“Before I knew if I had gotten my G.E.D. I was called into the Commander’s office and thought, oh Lord, what did I do now and as I stood at attention, he circled around me a few times, looked at me and said, congratulations, you got your GED,” said Foster.
While sitting at his home desk, Foster said he received a call from PWHS Principal Chris Rapp thanking him for his service and wanting to present him with a high school diploma.
“I about fell out of my chair when he said he wanted to give me a diploma,” said Foster. “It’s an honor that they thought of me enough to present me with a diploma, but the main thing is for my grandkids and great-grandkids to realize how important an education is.”
Foster said his experience in the military was great and he wished he would have stayed in it and retired but decided to come back home to his wife and family instead.
Although, he is very thankful for how great the VA has been to him since he has been out.
“The VA sent me a scooter, so I have been keeping the streets hot,” said Foster. “Before my caregiver, Melissa ran most of my errands, cleaned my house, washed my clothes, was there when I needed anything, and overall has done an outstanding job.”
Melissa Timberlake, Foster’s caregiver and coordinator from Tech Medical Home Health, who has been with Foster for around a year, said it had been an honor to take care of him.
“They tell you not to let your heart get involved in these people’s lives, but if you’re a caregiver, it’s in the title,” said Timberlake. “You become an everyday part of their life and they depend on you.”
This week is the last week Timberlake will be with Foster due to a change in companies, but Foster made sure she was able to attend the ceremony.
“I believe the veterans who have fought for us deserve to have someone who fought for them,” said Timberlake. “I pray the next company does just as well.”
Timberlake said Foster has been a huge inspiration to her and has really lifted her spirits this past year.
“He is constantly writing letters to people when he wants things done or wants someone to hear his opinion and I thought maybe I should take a page out of his book and get the word out about his accomplishments,” said Timberlake.
During the school board meeting Wednesday, Rapp presented Foster with a diploma in front of members of the school board, friends and family of Fosters.
“I like to say the reason I’m so old getting my diploma is because they held me back a few years,” said Foster.
While Foster felt honored to receive the diploma, he shared he will never regret serving the country and encourages others to do the same. Many of Foster’s family members have also served in the military and shared he was proud of all of them and the education they received.
“If you want an education, the Air Force is the one to go into, but any of them is great and it should be an honor to serve your country,” said Foster.
Foster wants to thank the Lord for always taking care of him and hopes his children and grandchildren look back even when he’s gone and say, “Wow, look what grandpa did.”
“He tries so hard to show people there is still good humanity in the world even when there’s not much left,” said Timberlake. “He’s a godsend to anyone he comes in contact with.”
Reach Darian Gillette at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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