MEDIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Just a few weeks away from turning 100 years old, World War II veteran Albert Montella was surprised with the gift of a lifetime.
"It's exciting because I never expected it, I really never did. This is a far dream of this ever happening to me," Montella said.
Family and friends witnessed Montella finally receive his high school diploma from the Rose Tree Media School District superintendent where he lives at Sunrise of Granite Run Senior Living.
He never received it back in 1938 because he dropped out of high school to help his family make ends meet and then enlisted in the Navy.
"My grandfather made many sacrifices. Leaving school in order to help raise our family and here he is almost 100, so we're very thrilled," said his granddaughter, Michelle Archie.
"He served our country, he's supported and helped his community and all of that without asking little in return. So at the age of 100, we get to finally honor him in some small way," said Rose Tree Media School District Superintendent Dr. Eleanor DiMarino-Linnen.
This father, grandfather, great grandfather of many, and even a great-great-grandfather, never lost hope in one day receiving his diploma. His family says he spent most of his career working for the Media courthouse and always put their needs before others. But now it's his time.
"His story says that you never give up. No matter what happens in your life, there's always an opportunity for you to achieve a goal," said Penncrest High School Principal Ralph Harrison.
"I just say I want to wish everyone the same luck I had living this long, and loving people and being nice to people," Montella said.
World War II vet receives high school diploma right before 100th birthday