104-Year-Old WWII Veteran Becomes A College Freshman, Realizing His Life-Long Dream
Family, friends, and volunteers gathered Saturday at Chicago's Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Center, where Gryzbowski lives, to see him become an honorary freshman at Georgia Tech.
He was given a RAT Cap and T-book, which are typically given to freshman students enrolled in the university, while being recognized for his service and commitment to his country.
“On behalf of Georgia Tech, thank you for your service to our country,” school's president Dr. G.P. "Bud" Peterson wrote in the letter, which was read at the veteran's celebration. “I can’t thank you enough for the sacrifices you have made to serve our country and our world.”
Gryzbowski, who was born into a family of immigrants with several brothers and sisters, had long dreamed of attending Georgia Tech.
But his aspirations were put on hold due to World War II and the Great Depression. At 17, Gryzbowski joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public work relief program that operated between 1933 and 1942.
Despite being unable to attend formal classes, his love of engineering and math continued. He still keeps his beloved trigonometry book in his room at the Captain James Lovell Federal Health Care Center, where he now lives.
“He proudly talks to visitors about trigonometry and how he taught himself these important math equations from books he has collected throughout his life,” Stephanie Caccomo, public affairs specialist at the center, told InsideEdition.com.
After Gryzbowski moved to the health center, Congressman Bob Dold and Steve Rutledge, a volunteer, heard about his ambitions and immediately stepped into action.
They teamed up with Georgia Tech to award Gryzbowski the special recognition, which included the letter and other items from the school.
“His motto was to never give up and to never forget where you came from,” Grybowski’s daughter, Carol-Anne Touchberry, told InsideEditon.com.
According to Touchberry, Gryzbowski is one of the oldest living WWII veterans.
“I was very proud of him," she said. "The whole family was proud of him. Our soldiers need to be validated, appreciated and honored. My father bears this honor.”