WWII vet, 102, receives diploma, overdue medals

It’s never too late!  A 102-year-old World War II veteran received his high school diploma and 10 medals, including a Purple Heart and Bronze Medal.

A 102-year-old World War II veteran who served with Canadian and American forces and survived Nazi captivity received his high school diploma and overdue medals.

Sydney Cole dropped out of his Buffalo, New York, high school in the 1930s. Rejected by the US Army Air Corps before America entered the war, Cole headed across the border and joined the Canadian Royal Air Force.

He was discharged after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and joined the US Army in 1943.

Cole, who is Jewish, was piloting an artillery observation plane during the Battle of the Bulge when he was shot down in early 1945.

He spent the next four months in a German POW camp. Before entering the camp, Cole got rid of his military dog tags that identified him as Jewish.

In the camp he was horrifically beaten and fed grass soup and rotten potatoes. His weight dropped from 150 pounds to as low as 95 pounds. He saw mass open graves of Holocaust victims, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.

‘Living Example from the Greatest Generation’

Cole received his diploma Friday and 10 medals, including a Purple Heart and Bronze Medal.

During the special event, Cole said “I didn’t expect this. I really and truly knew nothing about it.”

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) joined members of the United States Army, Veterans of Foreign Wars VFW, American Legion, Military Order of the Purple Heart, along with City Honors High School students, and Principal Dr. William Kresse to celebrate Cole.

“Captain Sydney Cole’s story of service to this country more than 75 years ago is one that should be remembered and retold,” said Higgins.  “It is a story of bravery and sacrifice.  It is a reminder of the importance of the religious freedoms we value.  It is validation that one person can make an enormous difference in this world.”

“Sydney Cole is a living example from the greatest generation and is one of our national treasures,” commented Brian Stiller, Director, VA Western New York Healthcare System. “We are fortunate to have this special medal presentation here at VA to honor and mark his heroism and love for our country.”

By: AP and World Israel News Staff