Looking back, Ken Lanter says a lot has changed in his life over the years, but not his courage and determination.
In 1943, four months shy of graduating from Thomasville High School, Lanter was called off to World War II, to in his own words "get a piece of the action."
"It was a little bit different time back then, people were a little more patriotic,” Lanter explains.
Lanter was among the thousands on the USS Indianapolis when it came under deadly attack in the Philippines. He became one of 317 that survived its sinking.
"When I found out we were going to abandon ship, I stopped long enough to bow my head and ask the Lord to take care of me and he did."
In 2001, lawmakers passed an amendment to allow schools systems to grant diplomas to World War II veterans. When Ken Lanter showed his interest, staff members at Thomasville High were ecstatic.
"He's one of an elite group that survived probably one of the worst disasters on the high seas. Certainly he's a bulldog and there's not many of his kind left and we wanted to honor him,” comments Bobby Smith, Thomasville High School Principal.
Now among his many awards, reflecting his duty and willingness to sacrifice, is his coveted honorary high school diploma. Yet another admirable, though delayed
accomplishment in his life.
"It makes me feel that I am a Bulldog back again,” Lanter adds.
Thomasville High School also presented Lanter with the "Iron Dog Award" for his courage and willingness to sacrifice for others.