George Hulka Jr. received a Bronze Star and survived the D-Day invasion at Normandy during his decorated military career. Now at age 100, he added another accomplishment: high school graduate. Hulka went to a one-room school until eighth grade, but in the 1920s high school wasn’t available in rural New York. A state program allows World War II, Korea, and Vietnam veterans to receive a diploma. Hulka graduated in June with his 19-year-old great-grandson and a 91-year-old World War II veteran, Thomas Smith.
Linda Rolain, a woman suing over Nevada’s Obamacare health exchange, died on June 30 of complications from her illness. Rolain, who had a brain tumor, was part of a 150-person class-action lawsuit against the contractor that set up her state’s health exchange, Nevada Health Link. Rolain’s family said her tumor was treatable when it was first diagnosed in 2013, but it became terminal in the spring while she was dealing with enrollment problems and waiting on her coverage to take effect. Rolain, 64, finally had surgery in May.
Former Olympian and prisoner of war Louis Zamperini died on July 1 at age 97. Zamperini rose to international fame with the 2010 biography Unbroken, which remains No. 4 on The New York Times bestseller list. After competing in the 1936 Olympics, Zamperini survived a plane crash, 47 days adrift in the Pacific, and two years of brutality in a Japanese prison camp. He later professed faith in Christ at a Billy Graham crusade and forgave those who tortured him. A feature length film about Zamperini’s life will open Dec. 25.
Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected ringleader of the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, pleaded not guilty during a brief June 28 court appearance in Washington, D.C. At the conclusion, the presiding judge told Khattala—who had a public defender—he had been advised of his “constitutional rights.” Republicans have criticized the Obama administration for taking 21 months to make an arrest and sending Khattala to a civilian court instead of a military tribunal.
Eduard Shevardnadze, the last Soviet foreign minister and an architect to ending the Cold War, died on July 7 at 86. Shevardnadze joined Mikhail S. Gorbachev to enact a policy of “perestroika,” or change, which preceded the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991. Shevardnadze in 1995 became president of Georgia, one of the many republics created from former Soviet states, but resigned in 2003 amid corruption allegations. Georgia’s Supreme Court invalidated elections it said he rigged in 2002 and 2003—violating laws he sponsored.
China’s push to root out corruption reached new heights on June 30: The Communist Party expelled retired military commander Xu Caihou after an internal investigation revealed he took bribes for military promotions. Xu’s future now rests in the hands of prosecutors, who will open a criminal investigation. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who took office last year, has promised to clean up the Communist Party and reform the country’s military.