Martin D. Weiss of Saylorsburg was the subject of a very special graduation held at the Pleasant Valley School District's school board meeting on May 27.

Thanks to PV's Operation Recogniton program, Martin, 80, is now the proud recipient of something he said he's always wanted – a high school diploma.

The Pleasant Valley School Board, through Policy 217, "Graduation Requirements," awards a high school diploma to any Veteran of World War II or the Korean War. The requirements for World War II veterans are: an honorable discharge; served in the United States Military between September 16, 1940 and December 31, 1946; and was a member of a high school class that graduated during the years 1941 through 1950, but did not receive a diploma due to military service.

Martin certainly qualified.

When World War II began, he was growing up in New York City and was so eager to serve he joined the United States Marine Corps when he was 14 years old. His father learned of it and stopped him.

Martin says he gave his father fits over wanting to enlist. By the time he was 16, his father reluctanly gave his permission to join the United States Navy. Six months later, the truth caught up to him and he was honorably discharged for being underage.

"There were a lot of us," Martin says, regarding the many young men who wanted to get into the war.

Finally, at the age of 18, he enlisted in the United States Army. By then the war was over. He served two years in Alaska and received an honorable discharge.

After returning to New York, he worked as a printer for several newspapers over the years. He also served 30 years in the Merchant Marines, earning his captain's license.

After retiring six years ago, the father of three and grandfather of nine moved from Baltimore to Saylorsburg. He read about Operation Recognition in a local newspaper and thought, "Here's my opportunity to get my diploma."

He applied for it and Thursday night, 53 years later, he finally received it.

"This means a lot to me," he said.

The district has recognized nine residents since it offered the program four years ago.

If you, or you know an eligible veteran who would qualify and is a current resident of the Pleasant Valley School District, contact Dr. Douglas C. Arnold, Superintendent, at 570-402-1000 ext. 1205, for more information. Relatives of deceased veterans, who meet the criteria above, also may complete the application for the diploma to be awarded posthumously.