By Mark Robinson
Fifty-one years after his classmates received their high school diplomas, Frank Marvin Massie Jr. joined their ranks in front of a full auditorium at Greenbrier East High School. Scheduled to graduate in 1964, Massie instead dropped out, worked for a couple of years, then signed up for the Army.
He ended up in Vietnam, assigned to the First Infantry Division. He was posted to Lai Khe, a city north of Vietnam. He was in an artillery unit, but he was with the infantry. Many veterans of combat take no pleasure in telling stories of their time in the military. Massie simply said, “It was bad. It’s something I wouldn’t wish on anybody, but if it came right down to it, and I was a young man, I would do it again. Because I feel it was my duty. My forefathers before me fought. I wasn’t going to go to Canada like a bunch of them did, because I thought that was my duty as a man.”
As for the diploma and the ceremony, held Tuesday, Nov. 10, Massie stated, “It makes me feel great.”
For his whole life, Massie has worked as an auto mechanic. “I worked on cars when I was 14, worked in a garage when I was 15. Been working on cars ever since. “
Massie said he heard about the diploma program through the Veterans Administration, and after applying for it, had to check with officials in Charleston and in Greenbrier County to make it happen. He says he is the first in Greenbrier County to go through this program that results in a diploma for an aging veteran.
Massie was joined at the ceremony by several family members, including his wife, Ann.