Korean War veteran gets his high school diploma

Wanda English Burnett


Frank Antras of Versailles received his high school diploma Saturday, April 3, 2010. The significance of the diploma is that although it came 62 years after the fact - he got it.

When Frank was a senior in 1948, instead of fighting for the top class rank, or a scholarship to attend a school of higher learning, he was fighting for his country in Korea.

Although he had enough credits to graduate from the Harrison school he attended, they didn’t allow diplomas to be given then - unless you physically completed your senior year, according to Frank’s son, Steve.

Frank marched into territory unfamiliar to fight in five different battles. He received the Campaign Medal, Cold War Medal, Good Conduct and Marksmanship Medals, but he still wanted his high school diploma.
The diploma was awarded at the home of Frank’s daughter, Leanna Phillippe, with many close friends and family members to witness the ceremony. It was complete with a reception and yes, a graduation cake!
Superintendent Ted Ahaus of South Ripley schools awarded the diploma saying, “At the upcoming graduation ceremony (for the school) I won’t have a student walk across the platform who is more deserving.”

The diploma was presented as a surprise to Frank, with his children being instrumental in getting the ball rolling. A law has been passed that directs schools to award high school diplomas to honorably discharged veterans who did not receive a high school diploma because they joined the military before graduation.

When his daughter, Leanna, heard about this, she immediately knew what she was going to do. As an educator herself, she knew the importance of the diploma to her father.

A short application was filled out with the Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs. After the application was approved, information was sent to South Ripley schools to award the diploma to Frank.

Any veterans serving in World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts, are eligible if they left school to fight for their country.

Leanna said there was no one more deserving than her father. She said of her four siblings, all have education beyond high school, and she credits it to her parents, who were “always supportive.”

Leanna has a Ed.S in School Administration and currently is the principal of Jac-Cen-Del Elementary School. Her siblings are Bill Antras, who lives in Brinson, Florida, and works as a Sergeant in the Florida prison system; Steve Antras lives in Memphis, TN, has an Associates Degree in Computers and has followed his father’s footsteps and is in the military - Navy Reserves. Another brother, Mike Antras, lives in Tullahoma, TN, and has a BA in Business. He is the CEO for a Canadian owned company. And, finally, brother Tom Antras lives in Spokane, WA, and has an Associates Degree and works as a lab technician in a hospital.

Frank lost both parents by the time he was 16-years-old, his own father, when he was only two. He told how he worked in a bowling alley from the time he was 11-years-old, seven days a week, setting up pins. He’s never been afraid of hard work. He knows the value of a dollar and the value of a diploma always encouraging his own children to reach for higher education.

Frank and wife Vickie have been married for nearly 57 years and say they have enjoyed life. They are quick to give back to not only their family, but to the community in which they live. They both attend the Versailles Baptist Church where Frank is a Deacon and teaches Sunday school. Together they serve in a jail ministry at the Ripley County Jail. They also have a shut-in ministry where they visit people who are not able to attend church services. They are also Gideons and are active with promoting the gospel through distribution of the Bible.

Humbly, Frank thanked those gathered at the occasion over the weekend and said everything he has achieved in his life has come from God. “God is good,” he said with tear filled eyes. He said in life, “it’s only what you do for God that counts.”

Frank was fortunate enough to come home from the war and to be employed with the Jefferson Proving Ground. He lived a simple life, giving to others, and says he’s already been rewarded here on earth by the many friends he and his wife have made.

While Frank feels blessed to have had a good job at the Jefferson Proving Gro
und, he knows today he couldn’t have held such a job without a high school diploma.

Pictured above South Ripley Superintendent Ted Ahaus, left, presents Frank Antras, right, with his high school diploma that he should have received in 1948. Instead he left school his senior year to fight in the Korean War and is pictured in his US Army uniform at right.