Mountain Home WWII Vet gets high school diploma during veterans program

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. -- The Freedom Is Not Free Veterans Program is a special service in Mountain Home, Arkansas for those who serve our country.

All veterans were honored, but for one 90-year-old World War Two vet, it was a day more than 70 years in the making.

"The war started, I was 15 years old," Louis Carrillo said.

Carrillo is an Army veteran who went to serve in World War II before finishing High School.

"I wanted to go. I wanted to serve," Carrillo said.

So, he went and, since then, he'd basically given up on ever getting his diploma. However, during the Veterans Program, with one slip of paper, his commitment to his country was commemorated.

"I finally made it," Carrillo laughed.

Carrillo's daughter says after many years of thinking of others, it was his turn to get something in return.

"I heard about the program and I thought, my god, he never got a diploma, you know, and he was always taking care of us or working two jobs after he came back," Pat Carrillo said.

However, like many veterans, Carrillo says he was just doing his part.

"You don't walk around with medals on your chest all the time. I did what I had to do, served my country, I was proud to serve," Carrillo said.

About 70 other veterans stood proud, too, during the Freedom is Not Free Program at Mountain Home High School.

"It shows respect to the service people and all the men and women in the service need to be recognized and show respect to them that freedom is really not free," Air Force Veteran Carlotta Wagner said.

The annual program is put on by the JROTC program and seeks to not only honor those veterans now, but also in the future.

"Getting the kids and the veterans together, getting the kids to understand sacrifice means nothing without remembrance," Instructor Bud Zorman said.

Zorman says that's why each student also had to say a personal thank you and extend a hand of appreciation to the veterans.

"They are our future and if we don't teach them good character and good citizenship and patriotism, in my opinion, we are doing it wrong," Zorman said.

From the flag folding ceremony to recognizing prisoners of war and those missing in action to the playing of TAPS, the focus of the program was freedom and the price that's paid to protect it.