The students in the cafeteria listened as their principal introduced a visitor in a wheelchair.

"This is Travis Croxdale. He is a soldier in the United States Army," Chuck Carter said.

Long before he was a soldier, Private Travis Croxdale was a wrestler. He started competing when he was just a kid in Morristown.

"It challenges not only another person but you're always challenging yourself constantly. Physically, mentally, you put your heart into it. It kind of helps you discover yourself in a way," he said.

Chuck Carter is now the principal at Union Heights Elementary School but he was Travis' wrestling coach. He remembers when Travis won the team "guts award."

"That's the award that goes to the guy who regardless of what was put in front of him, the competition level, whatever it was, he would never quit and never give up," Coach Carter said.

That was the team motto: don't ever give up.

Travis took it to heart and applied it off the mat."I didn't stop during this wrestling match and I really never stopped in practice that's how I got better so I've got to suck it up and keep going," he said.

Travis Croxdale joined the Army and after nine months went to Afghanistan for about six months.

He remembers July 23, 2013.

His platoon was ambushed. He said bullets were flying on both sides.

"I had one come really close to my head. I even saw the dirt kick up in front and I could hear it come right by me," he said. "It felt like a fast ball hitting my knee, a 100 mile per hour fast ball smacked me in the knee, that's the best description I can give, and I looked down and said I think I'm hit."

He felt the pain and saw the blood and his first thought was about his girlfriend.

"Then immediately after that I could hear Coach Carter saying you don't give up, you always keep pushing, you don't stop, you give it your all," he said.

He was rescued and his platoon won than fight.

From his hospital bed the soldier called Coach Carter to tell him how his words made a difference.

Coach Carter said, "Nothing could be more honoring me than to hear him say something like that that happened when he was 5 or 6 years old so I'm very very humbled by it."

First the guts award, now the Purple Heart. Travis looks forward to rehab and full recovery.

"Those doctors and therapists better get ready because he's going to say push me because that's just the kind of person he is. He's not going to go in there and have it done half. He's going to want them to... It's going to be like wrestling practice for him and he'll be in there ready to go. I know he'll do well," Coach Carter said.

Previous story by Eleanor Beck

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