After being seriously wounded in Afghanistan in 2008, retired Lieutenant Colonel Ty Edwards was given a bleak prognosis of ever standing or walking again.

However, during the national anthem before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday, July 1. The 20-year Marine veteran was cheered on by more than 17,000 spectators at Tampa Bay’s Amalie Arena.

Edwards, 51, proudly wearing his Lightning jersey as the 6th Air Mobility Wing Honor Guard presented the national colors. He told Fox News in a phone interview that it was “just phenomenal.”

“The Lightning organization and [owner] Mr. [Jeffrey] Vinik, and the NHL overall, are such first-class organizations. It was great to be there with my entire family,” he said.

“Every day he goes through an hour of rehabilitation on his own to make himself better,” Van Trees, the director of Support the Troops, said of Edwards. “They told him the prognosis to ever stand up or walk again was not very good … His spirit and his humbleness are just unmatched.”

Van Trees has worked with the Lightning organization for over eight years to identify guests to be honored during the national anthem. It is one of several programs done by Lightning as part of its long-standing ties with the Tampa Bay military community.

Lightning has two major events a year honoring servicemen and women, including Military Appreciation Night.

Edwards is a loyal Lightning supporter who appreciates the team’s continuous commitment to the veteran community.

Even though standing for the National Anthem has become a contentious subject in the United States, Edwards stated that he wanted to honor all those who have lost their lives and made sacrifices that the ordinary American does not witness.

“I just want to pay tribute to all those that have lost their lives and made sacrifices that the average American doesn’t see but I don’t fault anybody. It’s a free country.”

“I don’t agree with it but it’s their choice,” he added, reported  Fox News.

Edwards lives with his 46-year-old wife Anna and their two children, Alaina, 18, and Mason, 20. He first joined the military in 1992. In the 1st Battalion 7th Marines, he served as an infantry officer.

Edwards said that he served in three unit deployments to Okinawa, Japan, and was deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks when he was injured in action.

On October 18, 2008, Edwards was shot in the head during an ambush in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. While other Marines engaged in gunfire, Edwards’ 20-year-old interpreter, Hakimi Quadratullah, observed him lying on the ground and raced to help him, reported Daily Mail.

As Edwards was treated in the field, Quadratullah and several Marines stood up to the hostile enemy fire.

After the disastrous deployment, Edwards and Quadratullah kept in touch for a long time, according to Military Times.

Quadratullah, who now works as an operations manager at a distribution center in California, said that he was lucky to have wonderful friends like Edwards and his friend Steve [Hemmingway].