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WWII VETS GET DIPLOMAS
By Dick Mason
Observer Staff Writer
Saturday's La Grande High School commencement was the thrill of a lifetime for the school's 160 graduates.
LHS senior Holly Butler, however, experienced the thrill of two lifetimes.
Butler not only received her diploma but also had the opportunity to present a diploma to her grandfather, Charles Butler of La Grande.
Charles Butler is one of three Union County veterans who received honorary high school diplomas on Saturday. The three, Butler of La Grande, Basil "Bud'' Botting of La Grande and L.G. Jerry Moore of Union, were not able to graduate with their classes in the 1940s because they were overseas helping America win World War II.
Holly Butler was filled with pride and emotion when she presented her grandfather with his diploma.
"It was a humbling experience. He went through so much (during World War II) and then not to be able to graduate with his class,'' Holly Butler said.
The LHS senior said that her grandfather's experience made her realize how quickly one's life can change course.
"It made me appreciate how fast everything happens. He (her grandfather) was in high school one day and in the Navy the next,'' she said. "It could happen to any of us.''
Holly gave her grandfather a hug after her presentation.
"I'm very proud of my grandfather for putting his life on hold for our country,'' she said.
Moore said he had an uncommon feeling of exhilaration at Saturday's Veterans presentation.
"It was a real heart-warming dedication. Money could not buy that (the excitement of the moment) for me. That experience could not be bought,'' Moore said.
Botting had similar feelings.
"I was kind of overcome,'' he said.
Botting would have graduated with the class of 1943 if it had not been for World War II. He has always been a part of the class of 1943 and has attended its reunions for years.
Botting, Butler and Moore received the diplomas via Operation Recognition. The program is sponsored in Oregon by the state Department of Veterans Affairs and the Oregon Department of Education.
"This is a program that will honor America's Â‘Greatest Generation' for the gift of freedom they gave to us,'' said Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Joe Mangis.
Following is more information on the backgrounds of Botting, Butler and Moore plus John Gray of Hilgard. Gray also has received an honorary high school diploma but could not attend Saturday's ceremony.
Â• Basil "Bud'' Botting
Botting served in the Navy from Oct. 8, 1942, to Oct. 27, 1945. Most of his time was spent in the Asiatic Pacific Theater. His ship was the U.S.S. Ormsby.
Following the war he worked as a carpenter and building contractor, and trained carpenter's apprentices through the Eastern Oregon Apprenticeship Council. He also taught a La Grande Future Builders construction class at La Grande High School from 1976 to 1983 after earning credentials from Eastern Oregon University and Linn-Benton Community College.
Â• Jerry Moore
Moore attended Portland's Commerce High School, now Cleveland High School. He served in the Navy from Aug. 19, 1944, to July 1, 1946, and in the Korean War for 19 months.
Moore first was a signalman on a Merchant Marine ship during World War II. The ship hauled supplies to the Marshall and Gilbert islands. Later he was a signalman at a submarine base in Pearl Harbor.
In the Korean War, Moore was a signalman on the U.S.S. Shangrila, then the country's largest aircraft carrier.
Following his military service, Moore was a U.S. Postal Service supervisor. He helped run the Postal Service's Northwest alcohol and drug recovery programs.
He later worked at the Powder River Correctional Facility in its drug and alcohol recovery program. Today he works as a volunteer for the program.
Moore served as the mayor of Union from 1986 to 1990.
Â• Charles Butler
Butler served in the Navy from Dec. 29, 1943, to May 6, 1946. He was on Guam for 22 months, hauling ammunition from ships to shore. He later worked for the Union Pacific Railroad and Union County's Road Department.
Â• John R. Gray
Gray, who was raised in Hilgard and attended La Grande High School, served in the Navy from Feb. 24, 1944, to April 30, 1946. He was based in the South Pacific and participated in the invasion of the Philippines.
He later worked for the Union Pacific Railroad for 38 years.