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Tag Archive | "Erwin Duane Empie"

Year in Review 2016: WWII Vet gets diploma


Erwin Duane Empie, 90, celebrates as he receives his diploma at the Cedar Springs High School graduation. Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn is next to him. Photo by K. Alvesteffer.

Erwin Duane Empie, 90, celebrates as he receives his diploma at the Cedar Springs High School graduation. Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn is next to him. Photo by K. Alvesteffer.

By Judy Reed

A lot of things happened in the Cedar Springs area in 2016, but the story about WWII Veteran Erwin Duane Empie, 90, finally getting his high school diploma last June was one of the most heartwarming. Empie left Cedar Springs High School in 1944 at the age of 18 to enlist in the Navy and serve his country during WWII. He was a sophomore at the time, so never got his diploma.

Erwin’s son, Mike Empie, got the ball rolling when he heard about Public Act 180 of 2001, which says that a high school diploma can be awarded to a veteran who enlisted or was drafted into WWII, Korea, or Viet Nam. He spoke with school registrar Susan Andrzejewski, who found Erwin’s transcript in an old box in the basement of the school, and verified that he had been a student. Empie then graduated with the rest of the Class of 2016 at Cedar Springs High School.

The photo above, taken by photograher Kelly Alvesteffer, perfectly caught the emotion of the moment.

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It’s time to celebrate!


 

Congratulations Class of 2016

Erwin Duane Empie, 90, celebrates as he receives his diploma at the Cedar Springs High School graduation. Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn is behind him. Photo by K. Alvesteffer.

Erwin Duane Empie, 90, celebrates as he receives his diploma at the Cedar Springs High School graduation. Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn is behind him. Photo by K. Alvesteffer.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This one is a great example of that! It’s so full of emotion. A World War II Veteran finally got his high school diploma last week and this was his reaction!

Erwin Duane Empie, 90, had waited a long time to get his high school diploma. But the wait was over on Thursday, June 2, when he finally received an honorary diploma from Cedar Springs High School—the school he left in the 1940s so he could serve our country during World War II. He only attended through part of his sophomore year, and enlisted in the Navy in 1944, at age 18.

Mr. Empie received his diploma, along with the class of 2016. The ceremony moved many people in the audience, some of whom posted on our Facebook page, congratulating Mr. Empie on his accomplishment.

But it’s not only Mr. Empie celebrating. Hundreds of students stepped out into a brand new world over the last couple of weeks as they graduated high school and now celebrate what lies ahead. Here in our area, students graduated from Cedar Springs High School, New Beginnings High School, Creative Technologies Academy, Cedar Christian Academy, Algoma Christian School, and Tri County High School.

To see photos of all the top honors students in our area and class photos, click link below to download.

Graduation2016.pdf

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World War II Vet to be awarded honorary diploma


Vet will get diploma at graduation

Seaman 2nd Class Erwin Duane Empie, left Cedar Springs High School in 1944 to enlist in the Navy during World War II.

Seaman 2nd Class Erwin Duane Empie, left Cedar Springs High School in 1944 to enlist in the Navy during World War II.

By Judy Reed

Erwin Duane Empie, 90, has waited a long time to get his high school diploma. But the wait will be over on Thursday, June 2, when he finally receives an honorary diploma from Cedar Springs High School—the school he left in the 1940s so he could serve our country during World War II.

According to Erwin’s son, Mike, his father was originally born in Rossford, Ohio to Glenn Empie and Bessie (Smith) Empie. The family later moved to Cedar Springs. He had a brother Paul, and a sister, Marie.

Erwin enlisted in the Navy in 1944 at the age of 18, while attending Cedar Springs High School. He trained at the Naval Training Center near Chicago, Illinois, and served aboard the USS Lexington CV-16. He was a gunner’s mate, and his rank was Seaman 2nd class, V6. Mike said the ship patrolled mainly in the South China Sea to strike against enemy shipping and air installations.

Erwin served until 1946. In 1955, he married Dorothy Patrick.

Erwin is eligible for the diploma under Public Act 180 of 2001. It says that a high school diploma can be awarded to a veteran if, before graduation from a high school, the military veteran enlisted in or was drafted into the armed forces of the United States during World War II, the Korean Conflict, or the VietNam war.

Mike heard about “Operation Recognition,” (Public Act 181 of 2001) in a newspaper article, and checked with Cedar Springs High School about his father getting an honorary diploma.

According to registrar Susan Andrzejewski, Erwin attended Cedar Springs High School for his freshman year and part of his sophomore year. She said she found an old box in the basement labeled non-graduates of the 1930s. Although he attended in the 1940s, she dug through it and found his transcript. “He was a bit older than our sophomore students today,” she explained, “but back then they sometimes kept students home to help farm.”

So it won’t be just 17 and 18-year-old students in high spirits when they get their diplomas at graduation next week. Erwin Empie and family will be celebrating, too.

“He’s very excited,” said Mike.

Congratulations, Erwin, and thank you for serving our country!

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