World War II Veteran to Receive High School Diploma at 10th Annual Operation Recognition

RIVERSIDE – Former U.S. Army Corporal, Walter Schedler, will earn his high school diploma at the age of 95, along with eight other Riverside County residents at the 10th Annual Riverside County Operation Recognition at 2 p.m. on Thursday, November 10, 2016, at the Moreno Valley Conference and Recreation Center (14075 Frederick Street, Moreno Valley).

More than 300 veterans have received diplomas through the Riverside County Operation Recognition Program since 2007. The diplomas are awarded as a joint effort of the Riverside County Board of Education and the County of Riverside Department of Veterans’ Services.

View the 2016 Operation Recognition Photo Gallery

The Class of 2016 includes:

John Danahy
U.S. Army
Vietnam War
Resident of Wildomar

James Hannibal
U.S. Air Force
Vietnam War
Resident of Temecula

Leonard Heiselt*
U.S. Navy
Vietnam War
Resident of Murrieta 

James Hicks
U.S. Army
Vietnam War
Resident of Cherry Valley

Alvin Horn*
U.S. Air Force
Korean War
Resident of Moreno Valley

Edward Mata (degree to be awarded posthumously)
U.S. Army
World War II

Robert Navarro*
U.S. Army
Korean War
Resident of Riverside

Walter Schedler*
U.S. Army
World War II
Resident of Murrieta

Tony Tovar*

U.S. Army
Korean War
Resident of Riverside

* Scheduled to be in attendance on November 10, 2016

Before joining the U.S. Army, Walter Schedler learned a lot about Thompson Seedless grapes, raisins, and growing up poor on his family’s farm in California’s Central Valley during the 1930s. Schedler dropped out of high school after only two years to work on a neighboring farm for a dollar a day.

When America went to war in 1941, Schedler went from serving in the Fresno National Guard to active duty in the Army infantry. His enlistment papers say his service started on December 7 – the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

“The Japanese attack interrupted my furlough [from the National Guard],” said Schedler. “I did not like that at all.”

He was trained as a mechanic servicing vehicles that kept the infantry on the move. He soon found himself on a ship heading to an “unknown destination,” which turned out to be the Battle of Guadalcanal. United States troops forced the enemy off the island, the first major offensive against the Japanese that claimed 7,000 American and 19,000 Japanese lives.

“We dug foxholes for hours,” Schedler remembered. “And we spent a lot of time in them.” He and other soldiers lobbed hand grenades to keep from being overrun by Japanese soldiers defending the island. They used flamethrowers in tunnels that allowed the enemy to pop up in front of, or, behind them.

Four years later, Schedler finally got furlough again—a 30-day pass to return to the United States. That one was interrupted by the end of the war. Like so many other veterans, he put his uniform and medals away and went back to work.

He had learned woodworking during the short time he was in high school, and he started making custom cabinets. He got a job as a truck driver for a beverage company, then became a salesman for the same company—a career that spanned 27 years. He retired and returned to cabinet-making, his “labor of love.”

All the while, not having a diploma nagged at him.

“When I became an adult, I told myself I should have stayed in high school,” he said. “I fibbed to get jobs. I got away with it for years.”

Now a resident of Murrieta, Schedler said he never shared much about the war or missing his diploma with anyone, including his late wife, Elizabeth, their son, grandchildren or great-grandchildren. But when he read about the Operation Recognition Program in the newspaper, he knew he had to sign up for it.

He is looking forward to walking across the stage and grabbing that little piece of paper.

“I’m ready to get my diploma,” he said.

Operation Recognition is open to current residents of Riverside County whose high school education was interrupted by military service in World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War. Education Code Section 51440 authorizes the granting of retroactive high school diplomas to eligible veterans. Section 51430 authorizes the retroactive granting of diplomas to Japanese-American citizens whose internment by federal order in World War II prevented them from graduating from their home town high school.