Carson High student gets diploma 30 years later | NevadaAppeal.com
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Carson High student gets diploma 30 years later

TERI VANCE

At 17, Robin Knutson made a decision that altered the course his life. In 1971, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam, forgoing his education at Carson High School.

But a law passed in the 2003 Legislature, called Operation Recognition, allows for students who left Nevada high schools to serve in World War II or the Vietnam or Korean wars to receive their high school diplomas.

“I’m really excited,” said Knutson, who now lives in Louisiana. “It’s just cool. It’s something that’s long-awaited and something that everybody else has and I want.”

It is an uncharacteristic break in an otherwise difficult life.

Abandoned by his parents, Knutson was raised in a Carson City children’s home and spent much of his adolescence in the Nevada Youth Training Center in Elko.

He left high school early to fight in the war and returned to find more struggles.

His first wife and 18-year-old daughter were killed. His second wife recently died of a heart attack, leaving him alone to raise his stepson, Mickel.

Following a diagnosis of hepatitis C and cancer, Knutson has been given three months to a year to live.

In the midst of his hardships, his diploma is a ray of hope.

“It’s huge,” he said. “For me right now, it’s huge, and it’s huge for my son.”

The diploma was presented during Tuesday’s school board meeting to Robert and Virginia Delaski, who are like parents to Knutson.

“We don’t know who adopted who,” he said. “But they love me.”

Coincidentally, Robert Delaski will also apply for graduation under the same law. He left high school to serve in the Korean War.

Vietnam veteran Tod Jennings presented the diploma to the Delaskis.

“Their country called upon them, and they answered that call,” he said. “This diploma is a small thing. They deserve all we can give them.”

Virginia Delaski was pleased to accept the diploma on behalf of Knutson, who was too ill to leave his Louisiana home.

“It’s a great honor for him,” she said. “He has had such a struggle. He really does deserve this.”

Mickel, 11, said he was also proud. “He worked hard for it, and his work paid off,” he said.

And Mickel plans to follow in Knutson’s footsteps, becoming a high school graduate.

“And I am not going to do drugs,” he asserted. “I’m going to get a good job and raise a good family – just like my daddy encourages me. I am very proud of him for doing that.”

Contact Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or at 881-1272.