'I can't believe this': WWII veteran finally gets his high school diploma

Congratulations Louis! He finally has his high school diploma 77 years after he left high school to join the Marines and serve in WWII.


A 95-year-old Massachusetts Marine veteran finally received his high school diploma Wednesday, 77 years after he left to serve in World War II.

Louis Picariello was a member of the Class of 1944 at Needham High School but he joined the Marines in March of that year, as soon as he turned 18.

He didn't stick around to get his high school diploma and after the war, he went to work as a heavy equipment operator rather than finishing high school. He also built a loving family, becoming a father of three, grandfather of eight and great-grandfather of five.

Recently, friends at the VFW pushed for Picariello to get a diploma, reaching out to the district to make it happen. It finally happened Wednesday when the diploma was presented to him during a ceremony with Superintendent Daniel Gutekanst and Principal Aaron Sicotte.

"We're really honored that 77 years later, Louis, 77 years later we can present you with a lifetime learning diploma, representing not only your time at Needham High School but a life well lived with an amazing family and, obviously, so many friends and colleagues," Gutekanst said.

"I can't believe this," Picariello said, visibly emotional after the ceremony. "Everybody went out of their way and I appreciate it."

Related video below: Veteran receives high school diploma ahead of his 95th birthday

Lifelong friend Albert Mercuri was at Needham High School on Wednesday to support Picariello. The two were separated during the war, with Mercuri serving with the Army in Africa and Picariello serving with the Marines in the Pacific, but they reunited afterward.

"I'm proud of him. We grew up together, we're both 95-years-old," Mercuri said.

Picariello received his diploma on the 246th anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps and one day before Veterans' Day.