WWII vet to receive honorary degree from New Mexico college

FILE - In this June 18, 2014 file photo, High School graduates stand and sing during graduation ceremonies in Santa Ana Bowl. The nation's high school graduation rate has ticked up slightly to 82 percent, a new high. The Education Department said Tuesday that the rate for the 2013-14 school year — up from 81 percent the previous year — was the highest since it started using a new, uniform measure in 2010. Still, the numbers show nearly 1 in 5 students leaving high school without a diploma. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Mark Felix, File)

SILVER CITY, N.M. (AP) – A 96-year-old World War II veteran will be receiving an honorary degree from Western New Mexico University during this semester’s commencement ceremony.

The university says Leonard Pritikin is a fixture at every Mustang home basketball and volleyball game. He’s always in the front row, wearing a bright yellow jacket and a veteran’s cap.

He’ll be introduced to the entire graduating class when he receives the honorary degree Dec. 9.

Pritikin enlisted in the Marines when he was 19 and served from 1940 to 1945. His military career was cut short due to injuries, but not before traveling through the Pacific as a section leader of heavy machine guns.

After a successful career as a photo engraver and 62 years of marriage, he says his one regret was not getting a degree.

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