For four days in February 1991, Donald Lowrie fought alongside his 1st Armored Division colleagues against Iraqs elite Republican Guard troops during the first Gulf War.
He continued to fight even though his back was broken the result of a freak injury he suffered throwing and catching sand bags while fortifying his position in the Iraqi desert.
Its not about you, its about the guy next to you, Lowery said about his decision to continue fighting while suffering through his near-crippling injury.
For his service, he was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Army Commendation Medal, the Valorous Unit award and the Saudi Arabian Liberation of Kuwait Medal.
However, it would be 22 years until Lowrie, 45, possessed those medals.
It happens a lot actually, said Gary Johnson, executive administrator of Monroe County Veterans Affairs, who helped Lowrie receive his medals. When people are getting out [of the service] and are in a hurry to go home, a lot of stuff gets left off.
The United States and its allies pushed Saddam Husseins army out of Kuwait in just a matter of days during the ground war, which followed a three-week intense allied aerial bombing campaign.
When it became clear there wouldnt be much more fighting, Lowrie told his platoon sergeant that he couldnt take the back pain anymore.
I told him, somethings wrong. It was a four-day truck ride back to Saudi Arabia, he said. When I got to some camp in Saudi Arabia, I walked with a medic down a hill and I couldnt go any further.
Lowrie spent the next six weeks in a military hospital in Saudi Arabia before being sent home. But he had a long road ahead to recovery.
I was flat on my back for six months or so, he said.
Doctors fused Lowries spine and installed six screws and two rods in 2010. Since then, hes had two more surgeries.
It was actually his efforts to get the U.S Veterans Administration to help pay his medical bills that prompted Lowrie to seek his medals. The VA initially told him the agency could not help with the bills because there was no proof Lowrie was injured in combat.
Lowrie lives in Key Largo with his wife, Tatiana, and his daughter, Davia, who is a freshman at Coral Shores High School. He is a facilities operations supervisor at the Hilton Key Largo Resort.
With Johnsons help, he contacted the Army Board of Corrections for Military Records about eight months ago. He said the officials in Washington cooperated and it did not take long before he received his medals.
Every once in a while, Im able to get the military to correct one of its decisions, Johnson joked.
The Key Largo Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 10211, will honor Lowries service during a ceremony on Veterans Day, Monday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. The event is at the Blue Star Memorial at Capital Bank, mile marker 100, on the ocean side of U.S. 1.
Mr. Lowries awards are well deserved and the recognition of his bravery is long overdue, Johnson said.