BIG SANDY, Texas (KETK) – A 99-year-old pastor in Big Sandy is getting his high school diploma after he was forced to drop out in the third grade.

Dr. Jack Hetzel has been at First United Methodist Church for many years and also fought for freedom in World War II in Normandy at the Battle of the Bulge.

“It’s very exciting,” Dr. Hetzel said. “You see when you have little education and then you have to come up through life and you have to front life with little education, you have to learn somehow.”

Although Hetzel earned his GED, one thing he said he always regretted was not receiving his high school diploma.

“I used other people to be my teachers, so if I got a question, I’d go to somebody that knew and asked them the question and then I would use it in everyday life,” Hetzel said.

The veteran was honored at Big Sandy’s graduation on Friday night at 8 p.m.

Hetzel will also celebrate his 100th birthday later in the fall.