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Published May 08, 2014, 10:13 AM

WWII veteran earns degree 70 years in the making (w/ video)

Cincinnati, OH (CNN) - A World War II veteran is just days away from getting a degree that's been 70 years in the making. Walter Bunker began his studies decades ago but only recently completed the requirements for his degree.

By: Ben Kato, CNN

Cincinnati, OH (CNN) - A World War II veteran is just days away from getting a degree that's been 70 years in the making. Walter Bunker began his studies decades ago but only recently completed the requirements for his degree.

In June 1944 Walter Bunker was fighting overseas during World War 2.

Walter Bunker – WWII Veteran: "I did not qualify to be a pilot. So I decided to try to become a navigator/bombardier."

Before enlisting, he spent a year in school on a scholarship playing the violin. Once he was honorably discharged, he tried college again before starting to work with his uncle.

Walter Bunker: "I felt a little embarrassed that I could never say I had a degree. I was further put down by all my kids talking about all the degrees they had."

That's when he visited Xavier’s office of the registrar.

Walter Bunker: "She said, 'I'll tell you, Walter, I'll send away and get all your transcripts.' I wondered if they had kept them for 70 years."

As it turns out, they did keep those.

"She called me in a week and said, 'Walter, you're very close to earning a degree. You only need two credits.'"

Bunker has never stopped learning. He has a long background in things like real estate, teaching and writing. That writing has earned him a liberal arts degree after he shared two of his stories with a professor.

Walter Bunker: "He called me and said, 'Walter, you can start sending out invitations to your graduation.'"

When he does that, he'll have some company. A veteran of the war in Iraq - albeit 60 years younger - will escort him.

Ryan Hoefer - Iraq War Veteran: "This is going to be one of the biggest honors of my life, to take a man of his caliber and help him graduate, and something that means a lot to him."

In the time it took to get this degree, Bunker's life has been full of joyous moments: 10 children, 21 grandchildren and the love of his life, Martha, for the last 65 years.

Walter Bunker: "It's sort of the culmination of my life."

Graduation is slated for May 17th. Bunker will graduate cum laude.

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