World War II vet gets diploma from Minn. school

Published 9:42 am Tuesday, July 14, 2015

MINNETRISTA — 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.

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.

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