It was 1953, and Sal Digiglio was ready for his senior year at Nesquehoning High School when he decided to serve his country by enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps. Digiglio served in Korea.

Lawrence Cinicola of Summit Hill left school in his junior year to enlist in the U.S. Army to fight in World War II. he would have graduated in 1943.

Joseph Ciavaglia, also of Summit Hill, also cut short his high school years, entering the U.S. Army in 1951, and serving until 1954, during the Korean conflict. He would have graduated in 1952.

On Thursday, the Panther Valley School District awarded the veterans the high school diplomas they never had the chance to receive.

The diplomas were awarded through the "Operation Recognition," which allows school districts to grant diplomas to honorably discharged veterans who served during World War II, the Korean conflict, or the Vietnam War.

Following the presentation of the American flag by the Panther Valley JROTC color guard, each veteran walked through a JROTC saber arch. School board President Jeff Markovich then presented the diplomas; Superintendent Rosemary Porembo personally congratulated each.

Digiglio, with his wife Ursula by his side, accepted his diploma. Frederick Cinicola, of Andreas, and his sister Anita Hiles of Summit Hill, accepted a diploma on behalf of their late father, Lawrence Cinicola. Ciavaglia could not attend as he is caring for his ill wife.

Any honorably discharged veteran of World War II, Korea or Vietnam who left high school to join the military is welcome to receive a diploma. If the veteran is deceased, family members may apply. To apply, call the school district office at (570) 645-3176.