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Posted November 19, 2014

WWII, Korean War Vets Receive APS Diplomas

Vets told Board of Education they were excited to get their diplomas

Robert Gleason (l) and Charles Herrera (r) received honorary high school diplomas Wednesday evening.

[Albuquerque, NM]—The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education and Supt. Brad Winter presented diplomas to three veterans who left Albuquerque High School to serve their country before the completed their education in the 1940s and 50s.

      Veterans Charles Herrera, who joined the Marines to fight in World War II and would have graduated in 1942; Robert Gleason, who also left school to join the Marines to fight in WWII and would have graduated in 1948; and Edwardo Cano, who left school to join the Army to fight in the Korean War and would have graduated in 1952, were presented diplomas during ceremonies as part of the regular APS Board of Education Wednesday.

      Herrera, who served four years in the Marines was only 17 when he joined, is very proud of his time in the service. “I received a letter of commendation from Major Gen. Louis E. Woods,” Herrera said in an interview prior to the meeting where he received his diploma.

      He also showed off the Japanese and 48-star U.S. flag that were sewed to his uniform while he was a radio tour gunman on an FBD-5 plane. “We had the Japanese flag in case we were shot down and captured by the Japanese,” Herrera explained.

      He noted that he only had a sixth-grade education, so he was very excited to receive the honorary diploma.

      After being presented with his diploma by Albuquerque High Principal Tim McCorkle on Wednesday, Gleason thanked Heather Kazda, a social worker at Albuquerque High, for helping him complete the paperwork that needed to be submitted to the NM Department of Veterans Affairs in order for him to qualify for the diploma.

      “I encourage all students to stay in school, get their education and complete their diploma,” Gleason said.

      Christine Garcia, who is Cano’s granddaughter, said her grandfather left high school at the age of 17, and after the war became a bricklayer and mason-- a profession he practiced for more than 50 years. “He got married to my grandmother in Germany and they were married for 65 years before she passed away,” Garcia said, adding that he is disabled and was unable to attend the ceremony, so she accepted the diploma on his behalf.

      Supt. Brad Winter noted that this was the eighth veterans’ diploma ceremony that the school district has held since the N.M. Legislature allowed school districts to present veterans with diplomas starting in 2005.

      “These men and their families are wonderful role models for students and all of us because they believe that education is important enough to come back all these years later to receive their high school diploma,” Winter said.