Man, 88, gets diploma from Minnesota high school 71 years after dropping out for World War II

An 88-year-old man who left a Minnesota high school before graduating to serve in World War II has finally received his diploma.

Russell Whittaker was awarded his Mound Westonka High School diploma Monday during a Westonka School District board meeting. His son asked the district to give his dad a diploma based on his military experience and secondary education.

KMSP-TV and WCCO-TV report Whittaker was 17 in 1944 when he left school for the Navy. He served as a minesweeper in the Philippines in the war's final year and was honorably discharged in 1947. He worked as an electrician, and says he often thought about not finishing school.

Westonka Superintendent Kevin Borg says the district has never awarded a diploma in such a way in his 10 years in charge.