(KTTC) -- It has been almost four years since the horrific massacre on Fort Hood that left 13 dead and more than 30 wounded.
A soldier who was a victim that day -- and survived -- was honored for his courage and resilience in Rochester, Minnesota Tuesday night.
The honorary moment was fleeting yet unforgettable as former soldier Patrick Zeigler accepted the Meritorious Service Medal in front of those that care about him most.
It's a moment that seemed impossible just three years ago.
"Wow, it is so incredible to be here, I'm so happy right now you have no idea," said Zeigler. "I feel like just elated that all of these people are coming together to be a part of my retirement."
Zeigler's harrowing journey to recovery took him through ten surgeries and countless hospitals across the country.
"They've been through so much and it's just great to see everybody here and sharing the time with them and he deserves it, he's worked really hard," said Lori Hanson, Zeigler's mother-in-law.
Surgeries and rehabilitation don't even begin to cover Zeigler's recuperation path.
This ceremony comes just two months after the sentencing of Major. Nidal Hasan, the former Army psychiatrist who attacked Fort Hood in 2009.
"I think it's kinda a little bit of closure just starting a new path in his life," Hanson said.
For Zeigler, he says he would not have made it this far, if it weren't for the love and support he has received from the Rochester community.
"The first time anybody ever met him in this town was when he was in critical condition and I moved him to the Mayo Clinic and since that day the support has been overwhelming and the whole town, the veteran community just embraced him like this was his home town," said Zeigler's wife Jessica.
Zeigler is celebrating retirement, but he has no plans to just sit back in relax.
"There's no way you know I'm gonna call it quits now, I'm gonna keep pushing and pushing and find something good to do with my life," Zeigler said.