A FORMER Tele paperboy has been promoted to the highest ranking of field grade officer in the US Airforce.

Graham Little, 49, who was brought up in Greenock, celebrated becoming a Colonel with his Scottish relatives at a ceremony at the Chartoom in Inverkip Marina

He asked for donations to be made to Ardgowan Hospice in lieu of presents and raised more than £500.

Graham, who was a Telegraph paperboy for eight years, attended Lady Alice Primary and Cowdenknowes High and was brought up in Gateside Avenue.

He was born in the US but the tragic death of his father Jackie meant that the rest of the family were forced to return to Greenock in 1969 when he was only a baby.

But his happy childhood in the town helped nurture his ambition.

He said: “I was born in Brooklyn, New York City, so I am a US citizen, but I was brought up in Greenock.

“I left to go to America when I was 18 and joined the US Air Force.”

His military career so far has spanned 30 years and has focused on aircraft maintenance, munitions, and acquisitions for Air Force and Navy Weapon Systems.

He rapidly rose through the ranks, becoming an officer in 1996, collecting academic qualifications along the way — including degrees in chemical engineering and a Masters in Business Administration.

It’s a far cry from his days delivering papers but Graham remembers those times fondly.

He quipped: “I was the most well paid paperboy.

“I used to earn £35 a week delivering papers and in the eighties that was an absolute fortune for a teenager.

“I learned a lot about life from my Tele customers that helps me to this day.”

He joked: “I suppose the headline will be ‘local boy does good!’

“I owe a lot of my success to good Scottish values and education, along with my family and friends, as they have moulded me to who I am today.

“I remember going to weddings when I was young and there was always one not-so-sober guest who would say, ‘work hard at school and do well, don’t waste your life, get an education’. That’s exactly what I did.”

Graham, who is now based in Germany, has been a squadron commander twice and served all over the world.

He was deployed in the Gulf War during operation Desert Storm, and supported the US Government’s anti-terror Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria.

He is married to Texan-born Bonnie, 44, and they have two children, a son Hudson, seven, and a two-year-old daughter, Brooklyn.

Graham, who has a string of military courses under his belt and has collected several medals, still has a brother, two sisters, nieces, cousins and other relatives living in the town.

He says his heart is still firmly in Inverclyde and that is why he wanted to share his big moment back home as well as giving something back to the community.

He said: “My sister had cancer and beat it, and my aunt had cancer too. Both were helped by the Ardgowan Hospice and I just wanted to help give something back to the community that helped me be who I am today.”

Graham’s siblings John, 52, Lorna, 51, and Jacqueline, 48, all live in the area.

Jacqueline, a teacher at Clydeview Academy, said: “Graham is one of a family of four. Our parents were both from Scotland and met in New York in the 1960s.

“The two boys were born in Brooklyn and Lorna and I were born in Scotland.

Mum-of-three Jacqueline who lives in Wemyss Bay says the family is so proud of Graham.

She said: “We are overjoyed. He is a great inspiration and a hero to all his family and everyone who knows him. He has been privileged to see the world but he has sacrificed a lot being separated from his wife and family. We just wanted to celebrate his success with him, he’s just done so well.”

Jacqueline says the fact that the ceremony took place in Scotland made it all the more special.