Students

83-year-old Vietnam veteran graduates Sunday in Dothan

May 21, 2018

For one Wiregrass resident, Sunday’s Dothan Campus commencement was the culmination of a lifetime of learning.

Robert McCloud, at 83, received his associate of arts degree.

The Vietnam veteran said the experience was the culmination of an entire career spent in the U.S. Army.

“I dropped out of high school in the 10th grade to take care of myself,” he said. His mother had died when McCloud was just 2 years old.

“I sort of made my own decisions and I knew I wanted to join the Army,” said McCloud, who retired in 1980 as a master sergeant. “I had wanted to do it since 1942 as a career.”

When he turned 18 in 1952, he enlisted – without the need for a high school diploma. He stayed in the Army through his first enlistment and sat out two years from 1956 to 1958.

“I went back and was sure I wanted to do it as a career. When I entered in ’52, you didn’t have to have a high school diploma, but when I rejoined in ’58, you had to have one. So, I got my GED,” he said. “As time progressed, they started talking about you needed a little college to get promoted, so I took some courses along.”

The decision proved to be powerful for McCloud. Over his career, he was stationed in Texas, Alaska, Korea, France, at Fort Drum, N.Y., fought in Vietnam, served at The Presidio in San Francisco and in Germany.

Over the years, McCloud, who received a standing ovation during commencement exercises and was recognized by both Gayler and TROY Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr. during their remarks, took college classes from TROY, schools in California, Maryland, “and all over.”

“In 1980 when I finally came back home, I went to TROY and took enough courses for them to say, ‘oh, yeah, come on and we can give (a degree),’ so TROY took care of me,” he said.

McCloud said about a year ago, he looked at all the college credit he’d gained throughout his life.

“All those courses ought to count for something,” he said, and it was TROY who worked out the remaining requirements for him to earn a college degree.