A Pennsylvania World War II veteran was among a number of high school students receiving their diplomas Thursday.
John P. Kupchella, 89, left school more than 70 years ago to serve his country.
He is the first to receive an honorary degree from Blacklick Valley High School in Nanty Glo through a federal program called Operation Recognition. It’s an honor he said he never expected.
“I appreciate it but I never expected it,” Kupchella said. “I never prepared for it. For 70 years I never even gave it a thought I was educating myself in the army,” he says.
Kupchella left what was then Nanty Glo High School in 1942, his sophomore year, to get a job to help his mother pay bills.
“I would send her everything and she would pay for the loan. When I felt she was safe and I was okay, then I went to service. Never thought I would, but did,” Kupchella says.