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    This Marine Dropped Out of School at 17. At 72, He’s Fulfilling His Promise to His Mom to Graduate

    This Marine Dropped Out of School at 17. At 72, He's Fulfilling His Promise to His Mom to Graduate

    PHILADELPHIA — Call him the Rip van Winkle of Benjamin Franklin High: Joseph Bond dropped out of high school at age 17, as war raged in , leaving without a diploma.

    Over 55 years, he served his country, built a career, a family, a life. But as he hit his 70s, Bond remembered the promise he made to his mother before she died: He vowed he'd earn his diploma someday.

    On June 13, Bond, a 72-year-old great-grandfather, will graduate from Ben Franklin's Educational Options Program, a night school that allows adult students who disengaged as youth to finish what they started.

    “I wake up all these years later, and I'm the one with the gray beard,” said Bond. “It was one of my goals before I pass, to get that high school diploma.”

    ‘The furthest thing from my mind'

    Bond was born in South Philadelphia, then moved to North Philadelphia with his parents, four brothers and a sister. He liked Ben Franklin fine as a student in the 1960s, but got into trouble for fighting as he passed through tough neighborhoods, and a judge gave him a choice.

    “He said, ‘Either wear pinstripes, or wear green,'” Bond remembered. Service to his country felt like a better option than jail, so Bond enlisted in the Marines, and it was off to Lejeune in North Carolina.

    It was a sea change, difficult in many ways.

    “At first, I was kind of rebellious, and the instructors were tough. Their whole job is to break you down and build you back up. But I realized if I…

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