High School Honors Vets who Served instead of Graduating

By Mark Hiller | mhiller@pahomepage.com

Published 06/06 2014 05:57PM

Updated 06/06 2014 07:50PM

Scranton, Lackawanna County -- West Scranton High School -- the home of the Invaders -- held a special commemoration ceremony on Friday marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. The program honored dozens of veterans for their service. Some vets sacrificed their education to fight for America's freedom. They never received their diploma -- until this day. Theodore Androkavitz was drafted as a junior while attending the former Scranton Technical High School. He proudly accepted a diploma he never though possible. "64 years later. That's what gets me, you know. 64 years," he said.

Former West Scranton High School student Donald Murray quit during his senior year to serve in the Korean War. Decades later, he's a proud graduate. "Well, it took a long time but I'm... I'm finally glad I got it, yeah," he said.

Some World War II veterans were reluctant to accept their diplomas. "I wasn't going to come for it in the first place but my daughters would holler at me you'll get it, you'll get it and I had to go," said 89-year-old WWII vet Sheppard Williams.

102-year-old Arthur Pesotine never graduated from the old Duryea High School. His family had to trick him into attending the special ceremony to receive his diploma. Mr. Pesotine's grandson Nicholas Kramer said, "Well, actually we didn't tell him because we thought that maybe he would go AWOL but you see that's the type of guy he is. He doesn't like to be honored very much. He's very private."

West Scranton students who had a role in the patriotic program say it's important to pay tribute to the greatest generation. "Really it's all of our lives that are saved by these brave men," said West Scranton Intermediate School 8th grader Christian Guerra who won an essay contest writing about the Invaders of Normandy. West Scranton High School sophomore Hannah Makowski who helped organize the program said, "They're the true heroes and they'll never be forgotten and I'm so happy that we can honor them."

28 veterans in all received their belated diplomas at the program. West Scranton High School is the only high school in the nation whose mascot -- the Invader -- is named in honor of the D-Day invasion.

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