A 71-year-old army veteran is preparing for his high school graduation after missing his 1964 graduation because he was enlisted, a day he's now regretted missing for decades.
Dave Shuker attended Abraham Lincoln High School in the early 1960's. After his junior year, he decided to enlist in the army to ease the financial burden on his family.
"I made the decision to go to make things easier on my family, make things easier for my siblings. Best for all of us," said Shuker. "[They] didn't have to support me and give me lunch money every day and stuff like that. It takes a financial toll on people."
He spent a majority of his time in the army in Germany, stationed along the Berlin wall.
"It was scary. You would hear gunshots in the middle of the night. You'd hear landmines going off every once in a while. It was scary. Especially when you're 17 years old," said Shuker.
While he was overseas, his mind wandered back to Colorado and the events he was missing.
"I used to lay there at night thinking about it. Thinking about my buddies all walking down the aisle and getting their diplomas," said Shuker. "No class ring, no letter jacket. That's all stuff you miss. You really miss it. And you think about it too."
While he got his GED in the army, he never received a high school diploma. And while he doesn't regret his time in the military, his lack of a high school diploma has weighed on him all these years.
"All the kids I went to school with all those years, when I was sitting on the Berlin Wall, here they were marching down the aisle. Wasn't right. But it's in the past and I have to live with it," said Shuker.
Now, thanks to a program called Operation Recognition, Shuker will receive his 1964 diploma alongside the Abraham Lincoln High School Class of 2017. Operation Recognition offers eligible veterans over 60 years old a chance to receive a diploma if they left high school early to enlist.