GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — A 95-year-old World War II veteran from Grandville received his high school diploma 77 years after being drafted.
Louis Nichols was a junior when he was drafted on March 18, 1945, the same day as his birthday.
“I thought, ‘Wow, what a wonderful feeling for me at 95, I never thought I would have a diploma,’” Nichols said.
He served two years in Italy and became a sergeant.
“I had 58 vehicles I had charge,” Nichols said. “We had a POW camp that we had to take care of and service.”
Nichols says he expected the war would prevent him from finishing high school.
“I had no idea where I was going but I knew I was going to be drafted so I went through the 10th grade and I thought, ‘Well I’m sure my next birthday I’m going to go,’ so I did,” Nichols said.
When he returned home he was able to apply to attend college.
“I applied to University of Michigan Extension and they had a course in Grand Rapids, so I served that for four years. Got a diploma from that,” Nichols said.
Decades went by, until one day when he told an employee at the Covenant Living retirement community, who made some calls.
Scott Merkel, the assistant superintendent, presented the diploma on behalf of the district.
“This is very exciting. This is certainly something that we are so proud to be a part of. Not only a Grandville resident but somebody who couldn’t finish school due to military service, service to our country, I don’t know that there’s a higher honor,” Merkel said.
His son Russ Nichols was one of the many family members attending the ceremony.
“I think he’s looked forward to this for many years. He worked, he was sort of a self-made man, had his own business in construction and in brick making,” Russ Nichols said.
Lou Nichols says he is grateful for the honor and appreciates everyone who made it happen.
“I’m going to hang it on my wall. I’ll tell you that, I’ll have it framed,” he said.