90-Year-Old WWII Veteran Surprised With High School Diploma He's Wanted for Over 70 Years

The 90-year-old veteran left high school in 1944 to join the Army.

October 12, 2016, 1:57 PM

— -- A 90-year-old World War II veteran from Pennsylvania has finally received the piece of paper he's wanted for over 70 years: a high school diploma.

George Fricovsky, Sr., 90, attended a school board meeting in Taylor, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday night under the impression he was simply going to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

But after reciting the pledge, Fricovsky was surprised with a framed high school diploma. Making the moment even more special was the fact that it was presented to him by his grandson, David Walsh, who happens to be a vice principal at Riverside Junior-Senior High School in Taylor.

"Pop was in tears, straight tears," Walsh told ABC News today. "It was something that he's always wanted, something he always deserved."

Walsh said his grandfather left high school at the age of 17 in 1944 to fight for the U.S. Army during World War II.

Fricovsky served in France, where he was wounded in battle in 1945 by a hand grenade thrown by German soldiers, according to Walsh.

"After getting hit, he laid in pain for 11 hours before he was finally taken to a hospital," Walsh said. "After that, he was honorably discharged with a Purple Heart."

PHOTO: George J. Fricovsky, Sr., 90, was surprised with an honorary high school diploma on Oct. 11, 2016. Fricovsky, Sr. said he was forced to leave high school at age 17 in 1944 when he served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
George J. Fricovsky, Sr., 90, was surprised with an honorary high school diploma on Oct. 11, 2016. Fricovsky, Sr. said he was forced to leave high school at age 17 in 1944 when he served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
WNEP

Fricovsky never got to finish high school, but nevertheless worked hard to give his family a good life, his grandson said.

"Over the years, my grandfather would occasionally mention feeling unaccomplished because he never got to get his diploma," Walsh said. "It was always a passing conversation, but graduation season this past May triggered something in me to approach the school board and do something about it."

Though timing and logistics didn't quite work out for Fricovsky to walk during graduation in May, plans were made over the course of the summer and finalized this month.

PHOTO: George J. Fricovsky, Sr., 90, was surprised with an honorary high school diploma on Oct. 11, 2016. Fricovsky, Sr. said he was forced to leave high school at age 17 in 1944 when he served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
George J. Fricovsky, Sr., 90, was surprised with an honorary high school diploma on Oct. 11, 2016. Fricovsky, Sr. said he was forced to leave high school at age 17 in 1944 when he served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
WNEP

"I'm just so happy we were able to do this for him," Walsh said. "He's an amazing grandfather who's always looking to get a smile out of somebody. He's worked hard for everything he's got, and he deserved this piece of paper."

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events