Navy veteran Sean Byer, of Jacksonville, served his country during the Iraq War.
Tuesday marked the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion in a war in which the pain and sacrifice of America's heroes was felt nationwide.
"I lost a really good comrade and friend, and I'm thankful that he didn't pass away for nothing," Byer said.
It was a mission to protect the country's freedom and the people of Iraq -- a moment in history Byer believes was necessary 10 years ago.
"I think it was good for our force, the common civilian workers over there, and it did a lot for me individually," he said.
Byers did tours of Iraq in 2005 and 2008. He said he performed classified missions for the Navy's E5 unit. He decided to enlist after not finishing college.
Byers said serving in the Iraq War gave him discipline and desire to help others. In 2010, he was honorably discharged for knee injuries.
"Because of the tools the military had given me, I was able to adapt," he said. "It was very hard and difficult. I was able to find a wife, and I have a beautiful child, and that's become about of my purpose as well."
Now his new purpose is finishing school. Byers is enrolled at the University of North Florida taking pre-dental courses. He hopes to start a dental practice.
"I'm just plugging away as hard as I can, studying as hard as I can, but it's rewarding to know that what I'm doing now will have a lot of impact as well," he said.