SAN DIEGO - Thousands flocked to MCAS Miramar on Monday night to welcome a young Marine who received a Medal of Honor Thursday.
Marine Cpl. William "Kyle" Carpenter stood before a sea of service members to share his story of survival.
Carpenter jumped between a grenade and his best friend, a fellow Marine, in the fall of 2010. He suffered the brunt of the blast that took out his right eye and left him with a punctured lung and a broken arm, jaw and fingers. Shrapnel had to be removed from his brain and legs as he underwent roughly 40 surgeries and was hospitalized for nearly three years.
"Both my eardrums were ruptured. I couldn't hear anything except for a loud ringing," Carpenter told 10News. "I felt like warm water was being poured all over me from the amount of blood I was losing."
The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing recognized Carpenter for earning the nation's highest military honor during an Evening Colors Ceremony. Carpenter remained modest about the award.
"I wear this medal for every single one of you," he addressed the crowd. "For those of you who have served, I thank you."
Carpenter, 24, is the eighth living recipient of the Medal of Honor. President Barack Obama said the young Marine has made no attempt to remove the scars on his face out of pride.
"I'm very proud of the scars I carry," Carpenter told fellow Marines. "It's been a journey I have been thankful for and at the end of the day people look at me ... and it sheds a tiny bit more light on Marines and wounded warriors who sacrifice so much and get so little recognition."
Carpenter is now pursuing a psychology degree in college and has already run a marathon. He says a triathlon may be next.
When asked about his visit with the president, he said he only had one regret.
"I should have gotten a selfie (with President Obama), representing the generation that I come from," he said with a chuckle. "I hope one day I will see him again in the future."