AUSTIN, Texas (KETK) – A 99-year-old World War II veteran got official state-level commendation after achieving his dreams here in East Texas.

Dr. Jack Hetzel is a pastor in Big Sandy who says he regrets not receiving his high school diploma. Last week, Hetzel joined Big Sandy High School’s graduation ceremony to walk the stage and finally achieve his dream of getting that diploma.

On Memorial Day, the Texas Senate adopted state Sen. Bryan Hughes’ resolution commending Hetzel on receiving his high school diploma at the age of 99.

“Getting his high school diploma at his age and his background, with all he’s accomplished in life especially on this Memorial Day weekend, it seemed appropriate to give him special honors,” Hughes said.

Hetzel was forced to drop out of school in third grade. Although he went on to get his GED in 1948, he said he has always wanted to get his high school diploma since then.

He went on to fight for freedom in World War II, serving his country in several major battles including Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.

“We’re proud of him,” Hughes said. “He’s someone that I represent, so I’m glad to brag about him and tell the story. It was fun for us.”

Hetzel spends Sundays preaching at First United Methodist Church in Big Sandy and has gone on to write eight books.

When KETK interviewed Hetzel last week, he was humble about his life so far.

“99 years of age, that’s something to be blessed about,” Hetzel said. “I know my lord and savior Jesus Christ, that’s enough to be blessed about. How much more do I need?”