Even though he feels like a million bucks now, walking across this stage in 1965 was the least of Jack Crawley's worries. Instead, watching black-and-white images of men dying in Vietnam made him concerned for his fellow Americans.
"I seen a lot of the action on TV of what was happening and I decided I wanted to go serve my country."
He made the sacrifice even though it would cost him.
"I talked to my dad and he told me he was proud of my decision, but it would be tough later on because I wouldn't have my high school education."
After being a gunner in the Marines for two years, Crawley says he learned everything he needed to know.
"The military taught me a lot of respect for my country, respect for others, friendships, Semper Fi, always faithful."
With those principles and some high school, Crawley managed to do pretty well for himself.
"I started at the bottom of Pepsi-Cola, worked my way up to running the operation. As general manager, owning my own company. I've had a lot of success, but it's taken a lot of sweat and a lot of work. But, it's always been n the back of my mind, not having a diploma."
That's why he spared nothing for his own five children who are all graduates and more.
"Back then, you had a chance because it was different as far as hiring and the skills you needed. This day and age, it's hard to get a job at McDonald's without a GED."
That's why this man who martyred his education to be a Marine stresses kids should stay in school.
"Today's kids, it's kind of the utmost importance to get their education."
If not for anything more than this moment and the chance to say, "I did it."
Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.