When senior Quintin Murphy de-gowned, you might say, at the graduation ceremony for Jack Britt High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina, he said the gesture that cost him a diploma wasn't meant to be a taken as a prank or stunt.
"I deeply apologize if you guys took it the wrong way," Murphy told WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham.
Murphy said he stripped down in front of the ceremony crowd and fellow grads to draw attention to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who suffer from PTSD — specifically his uncle and grandfather — and how they're being cared for medically by Veterans Affairs.
"Fayetteville does not have the best VA hospital," Murphy told WTVD. "I have been there with my uncle and grandfather, and I've see how poor things are, and like these are men that have served."
Murphy said his uncle Leonard Johnson, a disabled vet of Iraq, knew what he was planning for the ceremony.
"You know it really touched my heart," Johnson told WTVD, adding that he supports his nephew.
Johnson said for the last decade he's battled the VA over PTSD and other medical treatments.
"I have been on morphine for 10 years," said Johnson. "It took over a year-and-a-half to get my brace, my back brace, my knee braces, and an arm brace."
School officials told WTVD that Murphy's actions were inappropriate, and for that reason he won't receive his diploma for a few months and has been banned from school property.
But Murphy, who told the station he wants to go to college and then enlist in the Army, added that it was worth it: "I just want to tell them to be spontaneous, keep living...that was basically what this was for."