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Diploma Finds Place of Honor


The Northwest School District consolidated their administrative offices in 2018 to allow for one location to provide needed space for all departments. During the process, it became necessary to deal with many outdated documents and long forgotten memorabilia. One area that brought the most discussion and unanswered questions was the fire-proof safe. Amongst the old files was a high school diploma from the Class of 1967. During earlier “tidying up” endeavors, we had come across the blue folder with John David Ponder’s name on it. We now needed to find a rightful place for the diploma.


That’s when the journey began to discover who John David Ponder was and why the diploma was in the safe. During a Google search, we learned that John David Ponder was a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps. His date of casualty is listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as May 16, 1968.  We do not know why John did not pick up his diploma; maybe he had already been deployed, or a family member had not picked it up. Now the task turned to finding a family member who would want the diploma. We were unable to locate any living relatives. The thought of returning the diploma to another shelf somewhere was disheartening. What we did not know was that the answer we needed would be found in Perry County.


During our search, we found a Perryville News story about the Perry County Military History Museum. That’s when we met Carlene and John Rahn, museum curators. The museum has a mission to ensure that all their hometown heroes are not forgotten. As it turns out, John David Ponder was born in Perry and the Museum recently added a display featuring him. After speaking with the Rahns, we learned that they were also unable to locate any family members. The Rahns graciously offered to add the diploma to their collection.  I am happy to report that John David Ponder’s diploma has found a place of honor, not limited to family members, but to all who visit the Perry County Military History Museum. Mission completed.



Cynthia James