A 90-year-old World War II veteran has graduated from Xavier University, 70 years after his college education first begun.

Walter Bunker left the Cincinnati College of Music in 1941 to join the war effort, where he flew as a bombardier in combat missions over France and Germany. He was medically discharged in 1944 and continued to pursue his degree at a number of schools.

Bunker met his future wife at Xavier University when he was temporarily enrolled there. He had to drop out due to medical reasons. Work, family and medical issues – including a recent bout with cancer – continued to get in the way of Bunker’s plan to earn his bachelor’s degree.


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Last August, when he found out he only needed two credits to graduate, it was a no-brainer.

Read more below from WCPO Cincinnati:

Finally, after more than 70 years of waiting, Bunker earned the right to march across the stage to accept his Bachelor of Arts degree. He graduated cum laude.

“Walter Seton Bunker,” the public address announcer read Saturday as his family, friends and the thousands of people in attendance cheered him across the stage. They continued to applaud as a few of his life achievements were read and he made a subtle celebratory fist pump.

The crowd grew even louder when Bunker's escort and fellow grad Ryan Hoefer joined him at center stage. Hoefer, who fought in the Iraq War, was also honored for earning his bachelor's degree.

Upon receiving their diplomas, the two new college grads stopped, faced the crowd and crossed their arms to make an “X,” a physical symbol used by many Xavier students to indicate their support for the university.

They were joined in making symbol by Xavier President Michael Graham, SJ.

All three men received a standing ovation.

So, what's next for Bunker?

Given his list of accomplishments and achievements over the past 90 years it would seem that almost anything possible. But it seems he has one particular dream in mind.

“I want to be a cowboy.”