Marine Corporal surprises niece at 6th grade graduation in Utica

It was an extra emotional sixth grade graduation at Watson Williams Elementary School in Utica on Wednesday when a surprise guest was announced.

Posted: Jun. 20, 2018 5:28 PM
Updated: Jun. 21, 2018 10:52 AM

UTICA – It was an extra emotional sixth grade graduation at Watson Williams Elementary School in Utica on Wednesday when a surprise guest was announced.

U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Mark Mendez was deployed in Japan for two years, and more recently stationed in California. He came to Utica to surprise his niece, Jasmine, but his message was for all of the students about what they can do with their lives.

"It goes to show them that after hearing my background we’re not so different. I've also come from a place of struggle and I have transitioned to a place in my life where now that struggle has made me a stronger person and has built a very good character in myself, and I was able to experience a lot of things that I never thought I would be able to see," Mendez said.

Corporal Mendez says he couldn’t miss this graduation for the world.

He’s set to be deployed next month for about a year.

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