Jesse Castillo waited more than half a century for this moment.
Fifty-two years after he left his Texas high school, the Vietnam veteran finally received his diploma on Monday.
The 71-year-old decorated former Marine grinned as he crossed the stage during a special ceremony held by Riviera Independent School District.
"It was the most emotional thing you've ever seen," Karen Unterbrink, the school district's superintendent, told InsideEdition.com. "He said there's been this one thing that's been missing in his life and it's his high school diploma."
Castillo was scheduled to graduate from Riviera-Kaufer High in 1964 but left before he could finish his schooling. Instead, he joined the U.S. Marines and served in the Vietnam War, where he was shot in the right leg.
After returning home, he received a Purple Heart, a Gold Star and a Vietnam Service Medal with three Bronze Stars, among other accolades. He achieved his GED and finished two years in college before taking a job at a post office, where he eventually worked as a supervisor, KIII reported.
But the thought of his high school diploma still bothered him.
That's when state's education code , which allows a person who was scheduled to graduate between 1940 and 1975 to receive a diploma if they left high school to serve in World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War. Recipients must also have been honorably discharged from the armed forces.
"Marines aren't supposed to cry man or get emotional," he laughed at the ceremony. "But I'm a former Marine."