William Kyle Carpenter received the nation’s highest award for valor - the Medal of Honor - after he jumped on a grenade to shield his comrade.
As the nation reflects on its veterans' bravery on Purple Heart Day, INSIDE EDITION is remembering Carpenter's astonishing story.
Since the 8th grade, Corporal Carpenter, who is from South Carolina, said he wanted to be a Marine. At 19, he enlisted.
He told INSIDE EDITION: “I remember that like it was yesterday.”
In November 2010, five months into his deployment in Afghanistan, he found himself in a firefight with the Taliban.
Out of nowhere, a grenade landed at his feet.
He jumped on the grenade, saving his fellow Marine's life. But the blast tore his body apart.
He said: “My whole body was numb, but at the same time my next feeling was I felt like warm water being poured over me from the blood coming out and the blood loss.
“One of the few things I remember was telling the Marines that were treating me, ‘I’m going to die. I’m going to die.’ I couldn't see or hear them. I just remember saying, 'I am going to die. I am going to die.' ”
Carpenter was flown to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, where he found himself surrounded by his family.
His father, Jim, told INSIDE EDITION: "I never expected the damage to be that severe.”
Kyle lost his right eye. His right arm was nearly amputated and he lost part of his jaw. Shrapnel had riddled his body including his brain.
His mother, Robin, tearfully said: “I just remember telling him he's going to be okay.”
Kyle had to undergo 30 operations. He had an image of his Purple Heart embedded into his glass eye.
Recovery is a daily battle and he pushes his body to the limit, even doing pull-ups.
He said: “I’m really enjoying life and taking advantage of everything I can. Just to get out there and experience the second chance I’ve been given.”
Carpenter was medically discharged from the Marines in 2013. He's now working on his undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina.
According to the White House he has also been the recipient of a Purple Heart Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon.
In 2014, when Carpenter received the Medal of Honor, President Obama said: “Kyle is a shining example of what our nation needs to encourage.
"You will notice that Kyle does not hide his scars. He is proud of them and the service they represent."
Watch Below: 1,700 Students Honor Teacher at Funeral with Spine-Tingling Dance Routine