HOUSTON, TX - Gabe Kurczyn was left with a "bad taste" in his mouth following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. That pushed him to want justice, and he figured the best way to get that would be by joining the armed forces.
As a Navy Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman, Kurczyn spent a year and a half of combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The good times definitely outweighed the bad," Kurczyn said. "To be able to say I went over, I helped defend our freedom, helped get revenge for 9-11, without a doubt, I'd do it again knowing the consequences."
In December 2009, his unit was on patrol when a roadside bomb exploded. The blast gave him a concussion, and has since caused lingering hand and back issues.
For his service, Kurczyn earned a Purple Heart. On August 7 of each year, America celebrates National Purple Heart Day.
"Just one of those days that kind of lingers there, kind of have a lot of mixed emotions and feelings about it," Kurczyn said.
The 32 year old from South Texas says he's honored by the day, but it also reminds him of the friends he lost in battle.