U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient Povas Miknaitis was just 11 years old on Sept. 11, 2001.
Before the deadliest terror attack on American soil, Miknaitis already knew he wanted to do something to serve his country, in some way.
But Sept. 11, 2001, sealed his destiny, Miknaitis told NBC 7.
"I'd already known that I wanted to join the military just because both my brothers before me did and this kind of solidified that," he said.
And for those already in the military, 9/11 solidified their mission for years to come.
In October 2001, the U.S. military entered Afghanistan. In 2003, they entered Iraq.
Miknaitis would eventually serve in both countries.
He wanted to be at the tip of the spear no matter the risk.
"I joined the Marine Corps because of that because I was willing to lay down my life to make sure more Americans could be safe," Miknaitis said.
Nearly 7,000 lives have been lost in the war on terror since Sept. 11, 2001.
Miknatis watched as his fellow Marines and their families sacrificed their personnel lives.
"Roughly a third of the guys from our unit, so when we would come back, their wives would divorce them, engagements would break up, girlfriends would break up with them," he said.
Many service members, including Miknaitis, sacrificed much of themselves in the war.
Miknaitis was awarded a Purple Heart for his actions. His injuries from an IED led to multiple surgeries and care he still deals with to this day.
But he does not regret a thing, especially on days like today, the 16-year anniversary of 9/11.
"I would not second guess anything that I did or hesitate to do anything that I did, ever," Miknaitis said. "I don't have any regrets."
He said that he is one of many Marine veterans he knows: ready, even at 11 years old, to fight for our country.
"We knew the consequence of the actions, of what we were doing, but it was to keep Americans safe -- the world safe," Miknaitis said.