SPOKANE, Wash --- A local man should have gotten his high school diploma in 1969, but he dropped out of high school to join the army and was shipped out to Vietnam.

Steven Rieckers got a high school diploma with the 2017 graduating class of North Central High School, after dropping out of school almost 50 years ago.

Rieckers dropped out of school after his junior year and enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he served as a helicopter mechanic in Vietnam. In Vietnam he was exposed to Agent Orange and decades later he was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. It was on his bucket list to get his high school diploma, and he hopes to be an inspiration to veterans of all ages wanting to achieve the same.

“I watched the kids on tv coming back from their wars. And the trouble they have…I get emotional…I can understand what they’re going through and maybe this will help,” said Rieckers.

Rieckers carried the diploma proudly when he received it. His wife, Susan, was beaming with pride about his accomplishment. It means so much to see him accomplish something he did not have the chance to do all those years ago, said his wife.

Rieckers gets to keep his cap and gown too, which he plans to hang up somewhere in their home as a reminder of the day he finally graduated high school.