The last several weeks have been a whirlwind for Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter.
The retired Marine corporal who sustained catastrophic injuries after he shielded a fellow Marine from a grenade blast was in Washington, D.C. last month to receive the nation's highest military award from President Barack Obama.
Since then the 24-year-old has been on both coasts speaking to recovering wounded veterans, rubbing elbows with celebrities and just enjoying life before attending the University of South Carolina in the fall.
"I love Instagram," Carpenter said Thursday. "I like taking pictures. I've always been in to that ever since cellphones had that capability. Even well before the ceremony or before I knew I was going to receive that honor. I like using it."
Carpenter has shared photos of meeting Foo Fighters singer Dave Grohl at the White House, throwing out the first pitch at a Padres game and meeting actor Mark Ruffalo while backstage at the Late Show with David Letterman.
Carpenter said didn't expect all of the attention he's received but he appreciates the opportunity to let recovering veterans and others know that no matter the challenge they can still rise above it.
"I feel people look up to me," he said. "I want to show people no matter what they go through there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I just try to be positive and go out and do things to try and help people out."
Carpenter was injured when he put himself between a fellow Marine and a grenade that was thrown at them during a firefight in Afghanistan in 2010. He lost an eye in the blast and much of his face had to be reconstructed. His arm was shattered.
"I am proud of my scars because they show I dedicated myself to a bigger purpose," he said. "I'm definitely not shy of them."
He said the best moment so far happened at a reception in Washington, D.C. before the Medal of Honor ceremony. Many of the guests were extended family, people he had served with and the hospital staff that helped him with his recovery.
"They all got to meet each other," he said. "It was a really cool time having all of those people together in the same room."
Carpenter said all of the attention since receiving the honor has weighed on him at times but he hasn't let it change who he is.
"I am honored and humbled by it," he said. "I'm just trying to go to school and live my life."
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