On June 7, 1945, the Lincoln Academy Class of 1945 celebrated their graduation day. On that same day their classmate, Ray Roberts, was halfway around the world, fighting in the battle of Okinawa. He had left Lincoln during his junior year to join the US Marines on March 20, 1944, the day of his 17th birthday. After training at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Roberts’ unit shipped out with the 5th Battalion of the 1st Marine Division, serving under the legendary Marine Colonel Chesty Puller. His service in the Marine Corps led him across the Pacific, and ultimately to China, where he was a part of a post-war stabilizing force when the Chinese Civil War resumed after the Japanese surrender.
When Roberts finished his service in the Marines in September of 1946, he returned to Midcoast Maine, but he never received his Lincoln Academy diploma, despite the sacrifices he made for his country. Lincoln Academy recently had the chance, in some small way, to make it right. Last week Roberts was presented with his long-overdue Lincoln Academy diploma.
Ray Roberts has lived a storied life, before and after his military service. He was a star athlete for LA, competing on the track and cross country teams. He set school and conference records in the pole vault as a sophomore, and a school cross country record as a junior. Notably, Roberts achieved all of his athletic success before the spring of his junior year, when he began his military service.
Roberts’ athletic accomplishments were recognized in 2012 when he was inducted into the Lincoln Academy Sports Hall of Fame, for his accomplishments in track and cross country.
After returning home as a war hero, Roberts went on to live the kind of life most people only dream about. He toured with a country music band, worked as a lineman for Central Maine Power, led wilderness trips as a registered Maine Guide, and raised prize-winning steers. He now lives in Nobleboro, surrounded by three generations of family who reside in houses and camps on the Roberts family farm.
When Roberts was selected for the inaugural class of the Lincoln Academy Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, he made it known that what he really wanted from LA was his diploma.
It took some time, but Roberts finally got his wish. On January 12, 2017, Head of School David Sturdevant and members of the Lincoln Academy Alumni Council presented Roberts with his LA diploma, recognizing him as a member of the Class of 1945 and thanking him for his service to his country.
In presenting the diploma Sturdevant stated, “Raymond’s personal sacrifice — putting his young life on hold, not knowing how long he would be away, never knowing if he would return home — was one shared by a number of Lincoln Academy students at that time, and indeed young men all over America. It was the hour of greatest need for the Free World, and Raymond Roberts answered that call. We are honored to award a Lincoln Academy diploma to Mr. Roberts, who made a huge sacrifice for his country, community, and all of us, by leaving the Academy early and joining the Marines in those trying times. It is an honor to have Raymond and his entire family as part of the Lincoln Academy family.”
Bob Plourde ‘89 is the current President of the Lincoln Academy Alumni Council. “I personally am in awe when I speak with Mr. Roberts and his son David Roberts,” said Plourde after the diploma presentation. “You think of Veterans as being American heroes, and Raymond Roberts is truly an American hero and now a graduate of Lincoln Academy. What that man saw and lived through during the war is absolutely amazing, and to think at the age of 17 he volunteered and pushed to be sent to war as soon as possible. If you research his battalion, and read the history that those young men were part of it will send chills down your spine. To present him with his diploma after all this time was another part of the history of an amazing man.”