A photo taken at Red Lion’s school board meeting Thursday night. The board awarded an honorary diploma to John Henry Cohen Snyder Sr. (center).
A photo taken at Red Lion's school board meeting Thursday night. The board awarded an honorary diploma to John Henry Cohen Snyder Sr. (center). (Submitted)

More than two weeks after Red Lion held its graduation exercises, the school district awarded another diploma - but this one was honorary, and more than 40 years in the making.

John Henry Cohen Snyder Sr., 68, received his high school diploma Thursday night.

Snyder is a Vietnam veteran and would have graduated from Red Lion Area Senior High School in 1966.

"The Red Lion area community has a long history of patriotism and service to our nation. Each year, many of our students leave the comforts of Red Lion and home to serve in our country's armed forces," board president Chris Seitz said.

"Mr. John Henry Cohen Snyder Sr. left his home in the Red Lion community to serve in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He served his country proudly from 1964 until 1973, when he was honorably discharged," Seitz added.

Honors: Snyder was awarded a National Defense Service medal, a Vietnam Service Medal with three Bronze Stars, a Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon, and a Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, according to Seitz.

Seitz and Superintendent Scott Deisley then presented Snyder with his honorary diploma.

Snyder's presentation was listed first on the agenda after the call to order, Pledge of Allegiance, and approval of minutes, but had to be delayed because Deisley was late to the meeting.

"I'm sorry to keep you waiting," Seitz said to Snyder as the board considered the next item on the agenda.

"I've only been waiting 68 years," Snyder quipped.

His background: As opposed to being drafted, Seitz joined the Navy because "I like to travel."

With the Navy, he saw Australia, Guam, Okinawa, the Philippines and other islands and nations in the Pacific Ocean.

He trained for four months before being shipped out to Vietnam, he added. About a decade after his discharge from the Navy, he joined the National Guard, but was ineligible for promotion because he lacked a high school diploma or GED.

"I learned from experience. I've done just about everything," he said.

Now retired, he and his wife, Judy, dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus at Christmas time.

"I hope many Vietnam veterans will get their diplomas," Judy Snyder said. "They were not treated well when they came back."

- Reach Lauren McLane at news@yorkdispatch.com.